Bleak Asylum Ruling

Faculty member J. Wesley Boyd weighs in on denial of asylum in cases of "personal violence"

Center faculty member Wes Boyd recently co-authored this opinion piece about Jeff Session's decision to deny asylum in cases where victims have suffered "private violence."

Boyd is a regular contributor to WBUR radio's Cognoscenti page, which provides commentary from world-renowned experts in their respective fields.

Sessions's Bleak Asylum Ruling Sends Us Back Decades

“Sandra,” a mother from Guatemala was physically and sexually abused by her husband for years. He punched her in the face, broke her tooth and raped her. Afterward, he threatened to kill her and locked her in his house for days. “Eva,” a young woman from Russia, was brutally beaten and raped by white supremacist skinheads because she was an ethnic minority. “Daniela,” at 5, witnessed the gruesome murder of her mother by gang members in El Salvador, after her mother reported gang activity to the police.

Sandra, Eva and Daniela all fled for their lives and sought asylum in the United States. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision on June 11 directly threatens the lives of those like them.

We have provided legal representation and psychological evaluations for Sandra, Eva and Daniela, and scores of others seeking asylum and protection in the United States. The decision from Sessions threatens to eviscerate asylum protections for them, calling on asylum officers and judges to deny cases where victims have suffered "private violence" from people such as abusive husbands, skinheads or gang members.

Our experience, however, tells us that the Sandras, Evas and Danielas of the world are vulnerable refugees deserving of protection.

When we first met Sandra, her post-traumatic stress disorder was so pronounced that she was unable to discuss the years of violence she had endured. Eva had never told anyone about the horrific rapes she suffered and the deep shame she felt. Daniela still sleeps most nights in her sister’s bed, plagued by nightmares of masked gunmen shooting her mother a dozen times while she stood by.

Read the full article here.