Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Asylum

Immigrants who are fleeing domestic or gang violence can seek asylum once again.

 

On Wednesday, a federal judge struck down a decision made by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in June. Sessions’ decision disqualified domestic and gang violence claims for people applying for asylum.

 

The ACLU and the University of California’s Hastings Center for Gender and Refugee Studies filed a class action lawsuit challenging that decision in August.

 

PICO California

Ever since President Trump came into office, we at Valley Public Radio have been reporting on his administration’s changes to federal immigration policy—like its so-called “zero tolerance policy” of prosecuting asylum applicants as well as rollbacks on temporary protected status from certain countries—and their consequences on San Joaquin Valley residents and businesses.

Monica Velez

The soft chatter in the waiting room at the Yarra Law Group offices in Fresno are muffled by a Food Network show playing on TV. Receptionist tap their keyboards and answer phone calls. 

A 23-year-old woman from El Salvador, who we’ll call Ana, is among the dozen people in the room. A receptionist calls her name and she goes in to see her immigration attorney, Jeremy Clason. He’s preparing documents he’ll eventually file with the immigration court in San Francisco. She speaks to him softly as she begins to tell her story.

Laura Tsutsui

Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions made changes to the qualifications of those seeking asylum in the United States. Now, people fleeing domestic or gang violence no longer qualify for asylum. 

To be granted asylum, people have to prove they’re in fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion. An immigration appeals court during the Obama administration ruled those fearing domestic and gang violence fall into the “social group” category. Sessions overturned that decision.