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Thursday, June 13, 2024
Abuse and trafficking survivors could have see increased difficulty applying for asylum in the U.S., Wisconsin advocacy groups warn.

Abuse and trafficking survivors could have see increased difficulty applying for asylum in the U.S., Wisconsin advocacy groups warn.

State advocates raise alarms for abuse survivors in light of changes to asylum policy

After several policy changes from the Trump administration, Wisconsin advocates fear domestic abuse and sexual assault survivors seeking asylum could be denied entry to the country or even deported if already admitted.

“The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes — such as domestic violence or gang violence — or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim,” the justice department said in a statement earlier this year, in a move foreshadowing this month’s changes.

The administration announced last week it will begin enforcing Notice to Appear memos to a wide variety of humanitarian and asylum applications, which would compel applicants, including those fleeing domestic abuse, sexual assault or trafficking, to defend themselves in immigration court.

If denied, or if they do not appear in court, they could be subject to deportation.

“The idea that we as a nation are implementing limits on the ability of families fleeing abuse, trafficking and sexual assault to seek refuge here in the United States is an affront to human decency, particularly given the fact that so much of the instability and violence that survivors are escaping from can be directly linked to U.S. involvement in these regions,” Patti Seger, the executive director of End Domestic Abuse WI, said.

Additionally, a new policy would require asylum-seekers to arrive and apply at a port of entry, changing a long-standing law which allowed individuals to apply for asylum once they had already entered the U.S.

Advocates argued those fleeing for their lives may find accessing a port of entry or applying for asylum prior to entering the U.S. difficult.

“Many of our clients are survivors of sexual or domestic violence who have applied for legal protective status, including seeking asylum and visas created for victims of violence and human trafficking as a means to help law enforcement,” Robin Dalton, the senior immigration attorney at RISE Law Center, said. “These immigration opportunities created to enforce human rights already hold strict standards and take years to process. The idea that we are now adding further limitations to that process is truly disheartening.”

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