Portland activists are asking Maine's congressional delegation to do something about the changes to asylum procedures that were announced yesterday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions said the United States will no longer grant asylum strictly on the basis of a threat of domestic violence.
These new guidelines could dash the hopes of many of the women seeking refuge in the United States, says Alain Nahimana, the executive director of The Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center.
"According to Deborah Anchor, an immigration expert at Harvard Law School, this could be repealing 60 or 70 percent of asylum seekers in this country,” says Nahimana. “So, we're talking about tens of thousands of women who arrive in this country every year, seeking safety from violence and abuse at home."
Nahimana points out in many countries, the laws and court systems favor men over women in domestic violence situations.
"Many laws actually protect men, and women are subject to domestic violence without any help from their own government or their own judicial system," says Nahimana.
Nahimana says the Immigrant Welcome Center has already been in touch with the state's congressional delegation, seeking their help in reversing the new policy.