Tell Biden: Domestic, Gender-Based, & Gang Violence Survivors Deserve Asylum | Physicians for Human Rights

Tell Biden: Domestic, Gender-Based, & Gang Violence Survivors Deserve Asylum

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According to the latest report from PHR, the Trump administration caused compounded mental and physical harm to survivors of domestic and gang violence when he drastically rolled back government protections for asylum seekers fleeing to safety in the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice recently struck down Trump-era asylum decision, but so much more work must be done to ensure humane and fair immigration policies for people fleeing horrific violence. Tell President Biden to restore access to asylum and commit to protecting human rights now. Please take action today!

Your Message
Domestic, Gender-Based, and Gang Violence Survivors Deserve Asylum
Dear President Biden,

You have said that protection for refugees “embodies America’s commitment to protect the most vulnerable, and to stand as a beacon of liberty and refuge to the world.”

Domestic and gang violence are a major cause of forced displacement for those arriving at the U.S. border, yet the Trump administration callously rejected their claims. Former attorney general Jeff Sessions flouted decades of legal precedent with a blanket decision that domestic and gang violence survivors will generally not qualify for asylum, which was further entrenched by rules restricting access to asylum for these groups. I call on you to direct the DOJ and DHS to reverse this decision and establish eligibility criteria consistent with international law, particularly for victims of domestic, gender-based, or gang violence.

A recent study produced by Physicians for Human Rights together with researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles analyzed 132 medical-legal affidavits resulting from medical/psychological evaluations of asylum seekers to capture the harms they experienced. We found that most had suffered real and severe harms, including physical and sexual violence, often over many years, and by multiple perpetrators – and that victims often could not find protection in their own country.

The Refugee Convention defines a refugee as someone who is unable/unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of their country from persecution, for the “protected grounds” of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. According to the UNHCR, persecution by non-state actors, such as violent gang or family members, should be recognized whenever a government is unable/unwilling to control the perpetrators.

It is time for the United States to restore and expand the criteria for granting asylum to include those facing persecution through domestic, gender-based, and gang violence. I urge you to do so promptly.


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