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Jeff Sessions' Ruling Denying Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence Highlights Arbitrary Cruelty of Our Immigration Policy - a Problem that Goes Well Beyond the Current Administration

The decision is legally dubious. But it also highlights the arbitrariness of rules that exclude victims of horrible injustices just as severe as those luck enough to qualify.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsAttorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently issued a ruling denying asylum to female victims of domestic abuse and gang violence. His decision, which ruled against a Salvadoran woman who had been severely abused by her husband, concludes that such victims "generally" don't qualify for asylum under a federal law that grants asylum to any refugees who is "unable or unwilling to return to [her home country], and is unable or unwilling to avail . . . herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." The decision overrules two prior Justice Department Board of Immigration Appeals decisions, which granted asylum to female victims of domestic abuse in Guatemala and El Salvador. Sessions' ruling is legally problematic. But, perhaps even more importantly, it highlights the arbitrary injustice of a policy that denies asylum to victims of horrible persecution as bad as that which falls within the scope of the rules.

The key legal question in the case is whether Salvadoran victims of domestic violence qualify as people with "a well-founded fear of persecution" based on their "membership in a particular social group." The phrase "particular social group" is far from precise. But, as Sessions recognizes, courts have generally defined it as a group "composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic, (2) defined with particularity, and (3) socially distinct within the society in question." It should be obvious that women qualify as a group that shares "a common immutable characteristic," and that they are also a group that is "socially distinct" and "can be defined with particularity." It is true that gender is not completely immutable in an age of sex change operations. But it is surely sufficiently so to qualify under the rules. And you don't have to be a radical feminist to recognize that, in highly sexist societies like El Salvador and Guatemala, which have a "culture of machismo and family violence" (as one of the BIA decisions overruled by Sessions puts it), domestic violence against women flourishes in large part because of gender bias. And such bias helps account for the failure of the authorities to effectively curtail such abuse. Recognizing that does not require us to assume that all Guatemalan and Salvadoran men are sexist or violent, or that all law enforcement officials in those countries are misogynists, merely that such attitudes are sufficiently widespread there that they account for much of the danger faced by female victims of domestic violence.

In addition, one would have to be naive to believe that Sessions' immigration decisions are motivated by evenhanded concern for the rule of law. This is the same Jeff Sessions who has tried to impose blatantly unconstitutional conditions on federal grants in order to pressure sanctuary cities into supporting federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. That policy has been repeatedly struck down in court decisions by both Republican and Democratic judges. Despite his supposed zeal for policing flawed BIA decisions, I would be willing to bet that Sessions will not overturn last week's utterly ridiculous BIA ruling concluding that working as a slave laborer for a guerrilla group qualifies as providing "material support" to terrorists. That ruling is far more indefensible than those he just reversed.

But the injustice here goes far beyond details of legal reasoning, or the biases of the Trump administration. Even if we define "membership in a particular social group" more broadly than Sessions, US asylum policy still ends up excluding victims of horrible injustices. Specifically, it bars most of those who are victims of generalized injustice of oppressive regimes, as opposed to those aimed at specific groups. Consider, for instance, the victims of three of the biggest mass murders in all of human history: Mao Zedong's terror famine, which killed a record 45 million people, Stalin's famines and Gulags, and the "killing fields" of Cambodia. While some of the victims of all three were chosen based on criteria such as ethnicity, religion, or economic class, most were killed largely because they were victims of the general oppression these regimes inflicted on vast swathes of society. The same is true of current victims of massive injustice in some of the world's most oppressive governments, such as those of Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela. Thus, President Obama's cruel decision to presumptively subject most Cuban refugees to deportation did not violate the asylum statute, because most are victims of a generally oppressive regime, not people specifically targeted based on membership in a social group.

Yet there is no good reason why such people are any less deserving of refuge than those whose persecution is based on group membership. A person killed in an indiscriminate act of mass murder or deliberately created famine is no less a victim than one who was targeted for being a member of some "social group." Even if the former are not targeted based on an "immutable" characteristic, they are still victims of massive injustice and most still have little if any opportunity to avoid oppression, other than by fleeing the country.

Today, we like to condemn the immigration policies of the 1930s, which excluded many German Jews fleeing the Nazis. We do so even though the Holocaust had not yet begun, and German Jews of that period were "merely" subject to severe persecution falling short of mass murder. Yet many aspects of our current immigration policy are little better than those of the Roosevelt Administration back then.

Defenders of the status quo can point out that the US is not responsible for oppression in Cuba or North Korea. The same, of course, was true for Germany's repression of Jews in the 1930s, as defenders of that era's immigration policies were happy to point out. But when we deport people back to nations where they face oppression, persecution, and sometimes even death, we do more than simply turn a blind eye to injustices perpetrated by others. In such cases, the US government knowingly and deliberately uses force to place people in harm's way. As political philosopher Michael Huemer points out, the situation is little different from one where we forcibly prevent a starving man from buying food that he needs to survive. Even if we were not responsible for the initial conditions that caused the starvation, our use of force to prevent him from escaping the situation makes us at least partly complicit in his resulting death.

Another common rationalization of the status quo is that a nation is similar to a private house or club, whose owners have the right to exclude outsiders for any reason they want. This theory, too, justifies not only current policy, but also the exclusion of German Jews in the 1930s, as well as pretty much any deportation of migrants or refugees. The analogy between nations and houses or clubs has many other flaws, as well. At the very least, using this theory to justify excluding people who face severe oppression or death takes it very far indeed.

It is important to condemn the misdeeds of Trump and Jeff Sessions, as many are now doing. But it is also important recognize that many of the grave injustices in our immigration policy predate their rise to power, and go far deeper than the flaws of any one administration.

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  • Bob from Ohio||

    If more than one half of a population can be "members in a particular social group", than the words are meaningless.

    Your ire should be directed at Congress, not Sessions or Trump. The law just does not include "victims of domestic violence".

  • Krayt||

    My thought too. When one sees something one doesn't like, one slams one's fist on the table and cries, "There outta be a law!"

    It sure doesn't seem like the current law was a general get-out-of-shitty-situation-free card.

    If they ever change the law, make sure such an asylum grant also requires the abuser to be forever denied asylum himself.

  • Placeholder Name||

    Exactly. There is a difference between what the law is and what it aught to be. While I don't doubt that Ilya Somin genuinely believes what he is arguing, it seems like ever since Trump was elected, his analysis has been infected with a major case of Trump derangement syndrome. To argue that domestic violence is clearly within the scope of the exception made for refugees is nonsense, no matter how much you dislike the Trump administration.

  • phattyboombatty||

    He seems to go beyond just domestic violence victims and argue that all females living in a macho/sexist society are entitled to amnesty.

  • JesseAz||

    And if somin believes other cultures behave in such a manner, why advocate for open border policies.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Because, as America has shown time and again, one's original culture isn't one's destiny.

  • Placeholder Name||

    Have we shown that? This is a genuine question, not Internet snark. There are certainly people who have come to the US to escape a culture that they opposed, but I would think that those individuals already shared American values on things like individual liberty, etc.

  • DarrenM||

    It's not even clear the law "ought" to include asylum for "domestic abuse". You have to draw a line someplace. The definition of "domestic abuse" for one thing seems rather flexible. Why not other forms of abuse? Doesn't the native country have any obligation to address this? Why is this all on the U.S.?

  • JesseAz||

    It's pretty racist for Mr. Somin to assume foreigners have a greater aptitude for domestic violence.

  • Sarcastr0||

    It looks like in your attempt at a sick burn you're conflating countries with individuals?

  • NToJ||

    I hate it when liberals like JesseAz play the race card.

  • NToJ||

    More than half of El Salvadorans are victims of domestic violence?

  • phattyboombatty||

    El Salvador should file a cultural appropriation lawsuit against any man in the United States convicted of domestic violence.

  • Purple Martin||

    Bob, attempting to us percentage of population as a threshold for a defined class of victimhood makes for an odd argument---its inaccuracy is easily demonstrated, through simple history.

    For your assertion to be true, there would be no instances of a ruling minority class oppressing a majority population class. The different classes are most commonly defined by religion or race but certainly can be composed of additional "...common immutable characteristics."

    Are you truly so ignorant of history that no such instances occurred to you before you wrote your comment?

  • apedad||

    It's OK.

    AG Sessions is a fine, Christian man who is just doing G - D's work.

  • DjDiverDan||

    He better NOT be doing God's work on Government time! We have something here called separation of Church and State! His duty is to follow the law, not comfort the sick and afflicted. And women who suffer domestic abuse do not face persecution or imminent death or injury "on account of" being women. They fear for their safety because they had the misfortune to marry a$$holes. Sad, but NOT our problem to solve. I'm all in favor of much more open immigration to this country, but that is not Sessions' decision to make - that issue needs to be addressed to Congress. Unlike Breyer, Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Kagan (see idiotic dissents in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute), Sessions doesn't have the luxury of just rewriting Federal law when he prefers a different outcome, so it's just inane for Somin to castigate Sessions for not exercising authority which he doesn't have.

  • MiloMinderbinder||

    Don't care.

    Somin is on record opposing all limits to immigration, so naturally he'd be opposed to Sessions' decision.

    The US cannot be responsible for alleviating all the sufferings and wrongs in the world.

  • gormadoc||

    The suggestion is that we avoid kicking people out into situations of suffering. That places no burden of action on us and hence no responsibility.

  • KevinP||

    Somin is actually on record as being opposed to criminal non-citizens being deported.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Asylum is not amnesty.

    Legitimate asylum seekers (even for these types of reasons) turn themselves in at the boarder and make an immediate request for asylum.

    No mater the claimed justification for an asylum request, I would personally be highly skeptical of such a request only after the claimant is caught inside the US by INS

  • JesseAz||

    Except there are reports from migrants on them being coached to make asylum claims... Which diludes your point.

  • Sarcastr0||

    That's not an argument against the merits of having an asylum system, though.

  • damikesc||

    Except you ask for asylum in the first country you come to. For the ones in this article, it would've been, well, not the USA.

  • Careless||

    He has written that he is in favor of open borders.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    This strikes me as a perfectly reasonable ruling: Do victims of domestic violence in the US typically feel the need to flee to another country? Why wasn't moving somewhere else in El Salvador sufficient?

    A victim of domestic violence fears persecution by a particular person, not a group of people distributed across entire society.

    Try to show some sense, instead of just using any excuse to crack to border open!

  • bernard11||

    Do victims of domestic violence in the US typically feel the need to flee to another country?

    No. Why does that matter? The US is not El Salvador.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    It matters because "asylum" is offered to people who need to leave a COUNTRY to escape persecution, and thus have a desperate need to be in a different COUNTRY.

    If you just need to move to the next town over to escape your persecutor, you are not, a candidate for asylum.

  • bernard11||

    It matters because "asylum" is offered to people who need to leave a COUNTRY to escape persecution, and thus have a desperate need to be in a different COUNTRY.

    Again, the US is not El Salvador. A situation that may cause you to need to leave El Salvador may not cause you to need the US. Different places, cultures, etc.

    There's not an absolute rule for when you need to leave a country that covers all countries, for Pete's sake.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Demonstrate that it's typical in El Salvador that domestic violence victims are persecuted no matter where they go, and you might have a case. If all she has to do is leave her persecutor, no case at all.

  • bernard11||

    I don't have to demonstrate anything. I don't know the details of her case or conditions in El Salvador. Maybe the society is very harsh on women who leave their husbands. Maybe not.

    All I was doing was pointing out that your particular point is nonsense. You can't decide a case about ElSalvador based on conditions in the US.

    No goalpost moving, Brett.

  • Careless||

    I don't have to demonstrate anything.

    you do if you want your entire sequence of posts here to be anything but completely irrelevant. You want to call him out for goalpost moving when you're suddenly claiming he has to prove that the entire country is NOT out to get her?

  • Nige||

    The entire country doesn't have to be out to get her. The country just needs to be unable to protect her.

  • JesseAz||

    Bernard, just admit you can't answer his claim.

  • bernard11||

    Jesse,

    I answered it with a no. Domestic violence victims in the US do not need to flee to another country.

    That says nothing, nada, zilch, niente, rien, zippo, about whether victims in El Salvador do. That's my point. Are you too dumb to understand it?

  • Careless||

    No, bernard, asylum claims do not work on the assumption that the entire country is out to get the person seeking it, and it must be proven that that is not the case. Read a little about the concept before spouting off here next time?

  • damikesc||

    But we are expected to take them in.

    Some pretty hard standards of what qualifies seems to be necessary.

  • ||

    Because it's indicative of their real reason for fleeing. They are fleeing general crime and a lack of economic opportunity, neither of which are grounds for asylum.

  • mad_kalak||

    Bingo!

  • bernard11||

    I understand the issue, ARP. I just don't see what Brett's argument has to do with it. Notice that one of the conditions is that the individual "is unable or unwilling to avail . . . herself of the protection of, that country."

    That can be the case some places and not others. Is this hard?

  • ||

    I'm not following. Their stated reasons for fleeing (and asking for asylum) are not the actual reasons they're fleeing.

  • bernard11||

    I was addressing only Brett's argument that because victims of domestic violence in the US don't need to leave the country, we can conclude that those victims in El Salvador have no such need.

    As I said, I don't know a lot about El Salvador, but I do know it's not the US.

  • JesseAz||

    You're making an argument from ignorance. Got it.

  • bernard11||

    No you idiot. Can you read?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    If it's some places and not others within the same country, it's not a case for asylum.

    You don't get asylum in another country if you're just unwilling to move to a different city in your own country.

  • bernard11||

    That's not what you said initially, Brett.

    Come on. You said something you know is wrong and are fighting it like you would if somebody said something unflattering about Trump.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    No, actually it is what I said, I just became more specific in response to you.

    Asylum is for people who must flee their own country due to a well founded expectation of being persecuted anywhere they go within it. If there's refuge within your country, you're expected to go there, not impose on some other country.

    I suppose as a theoretical matter, you could have a country where people just generally persecute the group, "victims of domestic violence", in which case "victims of domestic violence" might be a group that would be entitled to seek asylum.

    But no evidence has been put forward that El Salvador is such a country.

    Here is Session's actual ruling. I think it is properly reasoned, and explains the situation and rule better than I care to take the time to.

    Of course, the woman's claim fails even if El Salvador were such a country, due to the 'first refuge' rule. You don't get to pick where you ask for asylum, you do it at the first safe place you reach. After that place, you're just a migrant.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "A victim of domestic violence fears persecution by a particular person, not a group of people distributed across entire society."

    A victim of such violence in a country where such violence is legal and local/national law enforcement will return the victim to their abuser if they attempt to flee to another location within their home country has good reason to fear "a group of people distributed across entire society."

    This is not the case in the US, and I don't know if it is the case or not in El Salvador specifically, but there are countries where the legal system explicitly legitimizes and supports domestic abuse.

  • damikesc||

    Still do not see why it is OUR problem.

    I thought this site, above all, would be opposed to us fixing every problem in the world. Apparently, I was mistaken.

    Your society sucks? That's a shame. Lots of bad stuff in the world. How, precisely, it is OUR problem?

  • Oli||

    You don't fix anything anywhere in the world by granting asylum. You help individual persons who didn't have the luck of being born in a safe place. You give them the opportunity of freedom. That's pretty much what libertarianism is about.

  • ||

    Except that libertarianism isn't about feeding, clothing, educating, and providing medical care to everyone who can't afford it, which in the case of these refugees, will be about all of them.

    As long as we have a robust welfare state, we cannot take in everyone in a bad situation.

  • Nige||

    But, see, libertarianism sucks.

  • damikesc||

    You don't fix anything anywhere in the world by granting asylum.

    you don't get asylum because your spouse beats you. While it is tragic, it is not OUR problem.

    You help individual persons who didn't have the luck of being born in a safe place.

    Which only means a massive swath of the world's population. Most people live in absolute shitholes. Unless you advocate massive nation building, then you're just picking and choosing who deserves are largesse ALSO.

    You give them the opportunity of freedom.

    WHY? This is not our problem. The world has loudly asked us to not butt in. So, we should honor that and not. Let the world fix their own problems.

  • Oli||

    "The world" (i.e. some politicians) might have asked that, but those individuals clearly haven't. Quite the opposite.

    I get where you're coming from, and I know that taking in anyone who wants to isn't possible from a practical standpoint. But I fear that in recent decades, practicality has more and more influenced ethics and ideas, when it should be the other way around.

    "It's good because it's that way" vs "The way it is sucks, but it's the best we can currently come up with".

  • Oli||

    "The world" (i.e. some politicians) might have asked that, but those individuals clearly haven't. Quite the opposite.

    I get where you're coming from, and I know that taking in anyone who wants to isn't possible from a practical standpoint. But I fear that in recent decades, practicality has more and more influenced ethics and ideas, when it should be the other way around.

    "It's good because it's that way" vs "The way it is sucks, but it's the best we can currently come up with".

  • DarrenM||

    It's our problem because the U.S. is an evil, imperialistic, warmongering nation from which nothing good has ever come, that is responsible for every bad thing that ever happens, and that is to blame for everything . . . or something like that.

  • KevinP||

    Which ones?

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    I don't have a comprehensive list, but Saudi Arabia comes to mind.

  • ||

    If you have the opportunity, watch the movie Wadjda.

  • KevinP||

    Do you have a reliable cite to show that in the country of Saudi Arabia "the legal system explicitly legitimizes and supports domestic abuse"?

  • AustinRoth||

    Liberals like Somin see every reversal of dubious Obama-era reinterpretations of law as themselves dubious.

    Funny how that works.

  • OtisAH||

    "Liberals like Somin"

    It never gets old.

  • VinniUSMC||

    If it walks like a duck.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The problem is that none of these right-wing cranks masquerading as libertarians knows enough to recognize a genuine libertarian, so they figure a Federalist Society-cuddling academic with libertarian leanings is a liberal.

  • Careless||

    Somin is a genuine libertarian. He's just, unfortunately, a suicidal one, in the sense that he has a particular policy desire that would destroy every other thing he wants.

  • FlameCCT||

    I'm starting to wonder if Somin is a Libertarian or a Progressive hiding as a Libertarian.

  • Sarcastr0||

    More proof libertarian has come to mean 'purer than thou' more than any specific policies.

  • dwshelf||

    If Somin doesn't like the law, he should propose that the law be changed.

  • AcademicRealist||

    Um, I thought that was the point of this article?

  • Bubba Jones||

    "the decision is legally dubious."

  • Ridgeway||

    Who knew that the US is actually the world's battered women's shelter.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Only open borders idiots looking for the flimsiest excuse to shoehorn as many people as possible here, just because.

  • Krayt||

    Having said all this, there is a good reason to accept people hand over fist: In an economically free country, the more the better.

    http://juliansimon.com/writings/Ultimate_Resource/

    In such a country, people can respond to issues and create solutions to problems faster than they become real problems, as measured by average health, wealth, and longevity.

    Indeed the world average is skyrocketting as China, India, and smaller places become more economically free.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    A pity America isn't an economically free country, in that sense, but instead a welfare state.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I mean, two tribunals before had ruled the other way. Sessions just overruled them.

    Somin's second paragraph provides his support for his analysis.

  • JesseAz||

    Which tribunals? And are we now binding the executive to adminstration posts. Bad enough lower level judiciaries are attempting to bind the executive.

  • Sarcastr0||

    There were legal analyses made in good faith. Sessions decided they were wrong. Prof Somin agrees with the multiple previous analyses.

    Agree or disagree, that's hardly 'borders idiots looking for the flimsiest excuse.'

  • Brett Bellmore||

    There were legal analyses made, perhaps even in good faith, which were contrary to the then in place rules.

    The woman's claim in this case is self-refuting. The identifiable social group being persecuted that she claims membership in is "El Salvadoran women who are unable to leave their domestic
    relationships where they have children in common" with their partners."

    And she makes the asylum claim about 2000 miles from home. Gee, looks like she COULD leave said domestic relationship!

    The borders idiot looking for the flimsiest excuse" here is Somin, though I don't think he's an idiot. Just obsessed.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Brett, come on now - that argument would apply to every single asylum seeker.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    No, it doesn't. Try to think this through, instead of just reaching for the easiest available reflexive quip.

    Domestic violence. So, she's being persecuted by her husband. Who she says she can't leave.

    And travels to America to make the case that she can't leave her husband? Didn't she just do exactly that?

    Say you're, oh, a gay person in Afghanistan. No matter where you go in Afghanistan, you're liable to being killed. Thus you must leave Afghanistan in order to find asylum.

    You're being persecuted by one specific individual, you don't need to leave your country, you just need to move someplace else within it. Totally different situation.

  • Sarcastr0||

    And she makes the asylum claim about 2000 miles from home. Gee, looks like she COULD leave said domestic relationship!

    That applies to anyone who makes it over here from their home country.

    As to your new thesis, the argument laid out in the OP is about the law enforcement culture in the home country. You talked about that part yesterday, did you forget so soon?

  • Careless||

    The stupidity of Howard Schultz has nothing on Somin when it comes to this matter

  • Eddie35||

    "Yet there is no good reason why such people are any less deserving of refuge than those whose persecution is based on group membership." That's a (reasonable) political argument, not a legal one. You can try to convince Congress to change the law, but I think Sessions has the better legal argument here. You can't define "particular social group" circularly. You have to be subject to persecution because of membership in a particular social group (like a woman in Saudi Arabia who is subject to actual government oppression due to being a woman). You can't just say, I am subject to persecution, and I am ipso facto a member of a particular social group, i.e., the one defined by the persecution I just mentioned. As Sessions correctly notes, that kind of a rule would make every victim of domestic violence eligible for asylum merely by virtue of having been unlucky enough to have been a victim. But not all women are victims of domestic violence in Guatemala by virtue of being a woman. Most women are not, which shows that is is not membership in the class of women per se that has led to the violence (as with government oppression in many Muslim countries) in any particular case, but personal relationships. Maybe Congress should act here, but twisting the law to fit a social goal is not appropriate.

  • ThePublius||

    I agree with you generally, but I don't buy your example. You are saying all women in Saudi Arabia are eligible for asylum in the US. I don't think that will hold up. You could extend that arbitrarily to women in any country who's social customs regarding gender do not align with your own (vague) standard.

    Race
    Religion
    Nationality
    Membership in a particular social group
    Political opinion

    I don't think gender qualifies as a 'particular social group.'

  • Eddie35||

    Maybe you're right. But my example just goes to show that the domestic violence situation is even further removed from the definition of a "particular social group."

  • M.L.||

    Asylum for domestic violence?

    This is really taking the push for America to be the world's policeman to absurd extremes.

    This highlights the arbitrary stupidity of open borders zealots and deranged anti-trumpers.

  • M.L.||

    Asylum is clearly suited for much broader geopolitical aims. The big picture question to always keep in mind is, how can we help these countries improve the lives of their people? The answer isn't to just move the people here, that actually makes things worse.

  • ||

    And it makes us worse too.

  • Jmaie||

    "The situation is little different from one where we forcibly prevent a starving man from buying food he needs to survive"

    This might be apt if we had the only market on the planet.

  • TW||

    It's a moot point – even if being a victim of domestic violence or living in a country rampant with crime and lawlessness were enough to qualify for asylum (it's not), prospective refugees are supposed to stop in the first country they come to after fleeing their home country (unless they're facing the same persecution there or other danger) and request asylum in that country. If they're fleeing Central America into Mexico and ask for asylum in Mexico, they might or might not be a refugee. But if they're not asking for asylum in Mexico and traveling through it to get to the United States, then we have no obligation to treat them any differently than we would anyone else who tries to enter our country illegally.

  • tbc||

    yeah thats the thing... Asylum is meant for persecution.. a get the hello outta Dodge situation, which means going to the nearest possible place.. not traversing half a continent to get to the US

  • OtisAH||

    "It is important to condemn the misdeeds of Trump and Jeff Sessions, as many are now doing. But it is also important recognize that many of the grave injustices in our immigration policy predate their rise to power, and go far deeper than the flaws of any one administration."

    Oh, then all's forgiven. Carry on. Don't worry about a thing.

    The New Cruelty has found its groove.

  • John Rohan||

    If you are fleeing domestic violence in Guatemala or El Salvador, then does it make sense to make a dangerous, 1000 mile journey across Mexico to the United States? Especially when migrant women are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault? Wouldn't that make your problem worse??

    It's patently obvious that whether they are legitimate victims or not, the primary purpose of such a journey is NOT to escape an abusive spouse, but simply to get permission to enter the United States for economic reasons.

  • Sigivald||

    Mexico is a State Party to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

    It should both give them asylum (if this is, in fact, a valid reason for asylum) ... and the fact that they traveled through it means they should have applied there first, as the "first safe nation" they got to.

    That this is somehow America's problem reiterates your final point; the goal is that the US is a much nicer place to be an asylum seeker than Mexico is, and has better life and work prospects.

    The goal here is obviously not purely escape from local threat of violence from a spouse - that could be achieved in Mexico, or probably in some other part of Guatemala or El Salvador.

  • gormadoc||

    Why is Mexico so safe when we're talking about non-Mexicans coming here and so dangerous when we're talking about Mexicans coming here? It's some impressive doublethink.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    It can be both safe relative to Honduras or other Central American states and un-safe as compared to the US.

    No double think needed.

  • VinniUSMC||

    Why is Mexico so safe when we're talking about Mexicans coming here and so dangerous when we're talking about non-Mexicans coming here. It's some impressive doublethink.

  • Mark22||

    The primary problem with Mexicans coming to the US is economic: they are a drain on public finances.

    In addition, Mexicans coming to the US are not a random sample; in particular, law abiding Mexicans, by definition, don't come to the US illegally.

  • DarrenM||

    They probably just didn't realize they were in Mexico. Everyone was still speaking the same language after all.

  • KevinP||

  • Bubba Jones||

    This seems like something we should put on a billboard in Guatemala.

    "Do not try to reach the US. You will be raped by Mexicans."

  • ThePublius||

    "according to directors of migrant shelters interviewed by Fusion." I don't buy it.

  • KevinP||

    You have better data? Please share.

  • Sigivald||

    Does any other member of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees think "women" is such a group membership, in this context? Did any of the drafting or ratifying persons or parties believe it woudl mean that in this context?

    This is the biggest stretch in stretch-ville.

    Argue, by all means, that US asylum law should be changed to include "fleeing domestic violence"; that's a thing one can argue for, and might be excellent policy.

    But unless one can show that the women in question (ignoring men who are victims of domestic violence) are victims of it because women-qua-women are the target, it won't suffice; a spectacularly implausible "genocide against women" campaign where a State tried to kill all the women within it - that would certainly be cause to grant asylum.

    But "my intimate partner or family beats me, but not other women" is not group-based like that, and is not a matter for asylum under current law.

  • Sigivald||

    (Every person on Earth is, after all, a member of a "distinct social group"; they have to be targeted and their residence State ignore their plight for that membership to be eligible for asylum under both US law and the Convention.

    Though experiment: Is an urban black teenage boy eligible for asylum in e.g. Canada, under this sort of interpretation? [Note that "yes" is an answer that is plausible and consistent; this is a thought-experiment, not a reductio.]

    After all, local cops aren't gonna save him from e.g. gang recruiters or a violent environment, and his group membership is even more tightly defined - and much more the reason for the danger, eh?)

  • FlameCCT||

    As a thought experiment as well as a reality based question; the answer is No.
    Canada is more oppressive (little Somin lingo there) than the USA when it comes to immigration, naturalization, and asylum/refugee status.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "But "my intimate partner or family beats me, but not other women" is not group-based like that, and is not a matter for asylum under current law."

    I agree, with the qualifier that a nation whose laws make women little better than the property of their husbands/male relatives and will forcibly return women who flee to their abusers creates a slightly different situation than what you describe.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Domestic violence isn't what political asylum is for. The term 'political asylum' might be a clue to that.

  • KevinP||

    From that right wing source, the Washington Post:

    'A ticking time bomb': MS-13 threatens a middle school, warn teachers, parents, students
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....story.html

    A question: Should the victims threatened by the MS-13 gang in the story flee to Canada and apply for asylum there? And should Canada be compelled to grant it?

  • Bubba Jones||

    Does a military draft qualify as political oppression?

    Does that mean we have to let all the teenaged Swedes in?

  • SIV||

    1, Yes

    2. Only the extreme-vetted babes

  • CrispyBacon||

    There's a 2013 episode of "Blue Bloods" where a Turkish woman, in the U.S. to perform music, seeks asylum because she fears her family will kill her (as an "honor killing") for having slept with the the American conductor. Her uncle previously killed his own daughter and her father had condoned that killing. The State Department (in the show) observed Turkish law had been changed to penalize honor killings and so there was no legal basis for providing asylum. The speculation about what private individuals may do (contrary to Turkish law, however ill-enforced) could not provide the basis. Beyond that legal analysis, there was concern for foreign relations, of discounting another country's laws.

    Above, you address the cultural issues in El Salvador and Guatemala, but I don't see any discussion of the relevance of those countries' laws. Is a country's law not dispositive as it was portrayed in "Blue Bloods"? Can asylum be provided under the law for violence that may be perpetrated by individuals (not sanctioned or committed by governments)?

    In the show, the woman was ultimately granted a work visa after the police commissioner prevailed upon the orchestra to hire her.

  • KevinP||

    Real life is not a TV show, sorry.

  • DarrenM||

    Often is less believable.

  • CrispyBacon||

    Don't apologize, provide meaningful responses going forward.

    If you believe the show misrepresented the law, then say so.

    Even if you think the show totally botched it (although you give no indication of being knowledgable), the show still presents a legal argument that deserves a response.

    We often find examples of legal or political situations in fiction that can be great fodder for discussion.

    I clearly wasn't stating what was presented in the show is the law (although I have a sneaking suspicion it probably is). I described what happened and asked two questions about the legal validity of those arguments.

    Your observation that a TV show is not real life is more asinine than astute.

    More than slapping down a silly non-responsive comment by a random internet person (ie you), I am requesting an actual response, hopefully from Prof Somin or someone else who knows something.

  • mad_kalak||

    Crispy, more people than you and I care to admit, get their political views from interpreting what happens in works of fiction and applying it to real life. Nothing wrong with bringing up a TV show. Moreover, this blog has done a "politics of Star Wars" series.

  • CrispyBacon||

    I attended a Somin get-together on Star Wars politics. I appreciated the subject matter.

    It's the legal ethics and 4th Amendment issues in "Blue Bloods" that really get me going.

  • KevinP||

    Feel free to show up in a courtroom and file a legal brief about the argument as portrayed on the TV show Blue Bloods.

  • swood1000||

    The key legal question in the case is whether Salvadoran victims of domestic violence qualify as people with "a well-founded fear of persecution" based on their "membership in a particular social group."

    Are we concerned about whether Congress intended victims of domestic violence to qualify as people with "a well-founded fear of persecution" based on their "membership in a particular social group," or do we treat this as living law, capable of growth? It seems pretty clear that victims of domestic violence were not included, given another part of the rules that govern establishing asylum:

    (ii) An applicant does not have a well-founded fear of persecution if the applicant could avoid persecution by relocating to another part of the applicant's country of nationality or, if stateless, another part of the applicant's country of last habitual residence, if under all the circumstances it would be reasonable to expect the applicant to do so.

    Couldn't victims of domestic violence escape their difficulties by relocating to another part of their country? In fact, wouldn't that be easier than coming all the way to the U.S?

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "Couldn't victims of domestic violence escape their difficulties by relocating to another part of their country?"

    Possibly, in fact probably in the majority of countries. However, if the law in a particular country treats such victims as runaways and allows police to forcibly return them to their abusers, maybe not.

  • swood1000||

    Possibly, in fact probably in the majority of countries. However, if the law in a particular country treats such victims as runaways and allows police to forcibly return them to their abusers, maybe not.

    Good point. That scenario supplies one of the requirements of "persecution":

    An applicant seeking to establish persecution based on violent conduct of a private actor must show more than the government's difficulty controlling private behavior. The applicant must show that the government condoned the private actions or demonstrated an inability to protect the victims.

    However, it doesn't provide the other requirements of "persecution":

    (1) membership in a group, which is composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic, is defined with particularity, and is socially distinct within the society in question; and (2) that membership in the group is a central reason for her persecution.

    "Persecution" involves an intent to target a belief or characteristic. That is clearly the rationale for the asylum laws. A person who is subject to domestic abuse is not being attacked because her husband is hostile to "married women who are unable to leave their relationship." He attacks her because of his preexisting personal relationship with her.

  • ||

    Congress protected victims of abuse with the U-Visa program, but the key difference there is that the abuse must have occurred inside the United States.

  • mad_kalak||

    White-knightery is so tedious. Why just the wimmenz?

    "According to the CDC, one in four adult men in the U.S. will become a victim of domestic violence during his lifetime. That's upwards of three million male domestic violence victims every year."

    I assume that the per capita rate in El Salvador is comparable to the one in the U.S. If this is the case, then EVERYONE in El Salvador can apply for asylum in that they are part of a social group that experiences domestic violence. Hell, we should just take the whole country of El Salvador into ours and let the last person not forget to turn out the lights when they leave.

  • Benitacanova||

    If we start down that road we'll inherit every woman with a towel on the planet. Then, when they get citizenship, they'll send for hubby.

  • ||

    Even if "hubby" was the one they were escaping.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Do you have any idea how long it takes for an asylum seeker to get citizenship?

  • ||

    Five years after the green card.

  • Sarcastr0||

    After the green card is a pretty obviously bad framing.

    Decades. It takes decades.

    I don't think the hubby plan is really viable.

    Speculation is not an argument.

  • Careless||

    Not the link you intended to use, Sarc

  • Ridgeway||

    There is another doozy in this post that I haven't seen mentioned.

    Trump is generally accepted as being the worst person in the world for having made overly-broad generalizations about Mexican immigrants being rapists.

    But now Prof. Somin informs us that all (or at least most) Salvadoran and Guatemalan men beat or are likely to beat their wives because of their "culture of machismo and family violence".

    Ay caramba!

  • Eidde||

    ...and some of them are doubtless good people.

  • DarrenM||

    ...and some of them are doubtless good people.

    That's just a myth.

  • Sarcastr0||

    How many of you read the actual post?

    you don't have to be a radical feminist to recognize that, in highly sexist societies like El Salvador and Guatemala, which have a "culture of machismo and family violence" (as one of the BIA decisions overruled by Sessions puts it), domestic violence against women flourishes in large part because of gender bias. And such bias helps account for the failure of the authorities to effectively curtail such abuse. Recognizing that does not require us to assume that all Guatemalan and Salvadoran men are sexist or violent, or that all law enforcement officials in those countries are misogynists, merely that such attitudes are sufficiently widespread in those countries that they account for much of the danger faced by female victims of domestic violence.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    That is just a long winded way of saying "and some no doubt are good people".

    "does not require us to assume that all Guatemalan and Salvadoran men are sexist or violent"

    Trump did not assume [or say] all Mexicans were rapists either.

  • bernard11||

    Only the ones trying to come to the US. You know, the animals.

  • JonFrum||

    Domestic abuse does not justify political asylum. If it does, we have several hundred million women we need to take it.

  • librich||

    Somin's odd view seems more aligned with imperial arrogance than with libertarian dogma. We're the rulers of the world, therefore any public policy issue that we view as a problem deserves our intervention. And the correlate is that any misfortune experienced by any human on earth is our problem and must be dealt with by us. Somin's outlook is misguided and arrogant, no matter how well-meaning. It's related to the outlook that we're responsible for the proper behavior of other nations.

  • DarrenM||

    It's beginning to sound like we need to invade these reprobate nations and enforce out own enlightened view of morality on them. For their own good, of course.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I am a hard core open borders type, don't think we should have embassies, ambassadors, treaties, or any governmental foreign relations of any sort.

    But as long as there are going to be closed borders, the immigration quota has to be allocated somehow. Isn't that the first rule of economics, that resources are scarce? And didn't Bastiat have something to say about the seen and the unseen?

    For every abused and battered woman you let in from a country where the legal remedies suck but do exist, you keep out someone from a war zone who ISIS wants to kill, or someone who translated for the US Army and the Taliban wants to kill, or a gay from Saudi Arabia who is likely to be beheaded, or a daughter whose brothers want the privilege of killing for the family's honor.

    You got to allocate those immigration slots somehow. Priorities!

  • Sarcastr0||

    You are correct only if asylum were the only avenue of immigration, and if it ran on a quota system.

    So you are actually doubly wrong.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Regardless of whether there is a legal enumerated quota, there is a public perception. We have evidently been running over that limit for some time, and the public has been putting pressure on politicians to limit refugees. Thus Trump.

  • Sarcastr0||

    First, you've just radically changed your thesis.
    Second, argument ad popularum is a fallacy. Something can be wrong even if most people want it.
    And in this case, it's not even clear most people want it.

  • mad_kalak||

    Point of order: In a democracy, when public policy is the topic of debate, argument ad populum isn't necessary a fallacy.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Still a fallacy.

    This blog is FULL of people who want very unpopular things. They need to support why they want what the want is good policy, but they aren't automatically wrong.

  • mad_kalak||

    Not a fallacy, per se, because we should take a high regard for the current social order and policy preferences of the majority in a democracy. Let me use a more prosaic example to illustrate. The majority of the country supports having NASA. Therefore, it is incumbent upon anyone who wants to eliminate NASA to show the majority why NASA should be cut from the budget. The supporter of NASA says in response to someone who wants to eliminate it, "well most people want NASA" and indeed they wouldn't be wrong, and further, the NASA supporter is making the argument (perhaps intrinsically) that because most people want NASA, that's why politicians we elect continue to fund it, which is the way things are supposed to be in a democracy.

    It is a fallacy to use an argument ad populum to say something like, a majority of American's listen to pop music, therefore pop music is the best type of music. See the difference?

  • Sarcastr0||

    No, I honestly don't see the difference. You're saying that in a democracy, the majority of people being for a policy means it's the best policy.

    Do you think there is any truth value to 'Trump is unpopular therefore he's not a good President?' Or by similar logic that Obama was a great President.

    It's part of a well-functioning democracy to interrogate even popular policies on their own merits. You do this all the time; I've never seen you argue that popularity is a merit in itself before.

  • mad_kalak||

    Calling majority choice in a democracy a logical fallacy is absurd, because the purpose of a democracy (with rights as guardrails) is purposely so that the majority should have their preferred policy choice.

    I'm not saying that majority opinion shouldn't be challenged, because indeed majority opinion often changes, and so thus status quo shifts. The point that you're missing it seems, that the majority should have their policy choice respected at legitimate (i.e. not calling it a logical fallacy to refer to it), because that's how democracies work, by definition.

  • mad_kalak||

    *I also see you're point that the majority policy in a democracy may not be the BEST policy. Which may be true (or not). But it is the legitimate one, and therefore it is not a fallacy to say in a debate on policy, that XYZ policy is majority opinion.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Citing majority choice as proof of a policy's merit is a bad argument. Doesn't matter what form of government we live in.

    'the majority wants this so it is good policy' is not the same as 'the majority wants this so it is a legitimate policy.'

    The first is populist bluster masquerading as an argument. The second is a good sufficient-but-not-necessary threshold to start from.

  • mad_kalak||

    What is the purpose of a democracy? With certain protections, it is so majority rules, and thus if the majority wants something, it's legitimate by definition, and therefore it is not a fallacy to point out that a policy is legitimate.

    Citing that a policy is supported by majority opinion may not be persuasive to Sarcasto, but saying that a policy is legitimate, and status quo, by virtue of it being supported by majority is indeed persuasive to most people. And again, not a fallacy.

    Another point that you're missing it seems, is that usually by a policy being currently in place, is that we know the outcomes of the policy (unlike any proposed change). Knowing the outcomes of the status quo, and that it STILL has majority support, is also a measure of the worth of the policy.

    It is incumbent upon those who want to change policy to demonstrate that their hypothetical outcomes would be better. Usually they aren't, and there are just different trade-offs.

  • Sarcastr0||

    You keep switching between good and legitimate.
    Majority approval can legitimize something in a democracy; it cannot make it good.

    No one thinks a democracy makes the best policy, not even the Founders. A benevolent dictatorship is the way to get the best policies. The problem is succession.

    The benefit of a democracy the Founders wrote about is that it makes government a thing of the people. If the people want bad government, they will get it good and hard.

  • mad_kalak||

    No, I never switch between good and legitimate. I already admitted that a majority supported policy may not be the best policy.

    I am saying that majority rules in a democracy are legitimate, and given that the majority already knows the outputs of the policy, it is by default superior to one that hasn't been tried, because we don't know the outcomes of what hasn't been tried. Thus change should be incremental because we live in a system that is full of the greatest flourishing that man has ever experienced.

    And now you're moving to far afield arguing the benefits of a benevolent dictatorship. Yes, there is the problem of succession. But that problem means it is not a good system at its core. Those at the top of the hierarchy will make sure to accrue the majority of the benefits and will seek, via human nature, to maintain their status on top of the hierarchy, even to the detriment of those below them. This makes even a benevolent dictatorship fundamentally flawed because people are more like Napoleon than Cincinnatus.

    I appreciate your paraphrasing of H.L. Menken! I felt that way when Obama won re-election, but what makes democracy superior is not that we have a peaceful succession (though that helps). What makes it superior is that you can't fool all the people all the time. Eventually, a voting majority will realize, and sometimes this takes time, that they are being taken advantage of, and they put a new policy/leader in place.

  • OtisAH||

    "I'm all for open borders, but..." is a variation of one of my favorite rhetorical art forms. Did you also vote for Obama twice but became very disillusioned? Or maybe you're a full believer in climate change but worry the science just isn't there yet?

  • Sarcastr0||

    It's all slippery slopes and ad-hominems here.

    The complete lack of actual engagement with Prof. Somin's arguments, whatever their merits, is a commentary on where the anti-immigrant crowd is.

    And make no mistake, this isn't anti illegal, this is anti-immigrant. Strange how despite how much they insist it's the media burring the issue, the Venn Diagram between those who are vehemently for a crackdown on illegal immigration and those enthusiastic about narrowing every avenue of legal immigration is so nearly a single circle.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    "actual engagement with Prof. Somin's arguments, whatever their merits,"

    Numerous comments including my own first, "engaged" with his position. Look at Sigivald's comments for a detailed "engagement".

    His arguments are mainly emotion and Sessions bashing anyway.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Could you have written your post without reading past the title of the post? Then it's not engaging with the argument.

  • Mark22||

    The complete lack of actual engagement with Prof. Somin's arguments, whatever their merits, is a commentary on where the anti-immigrant crowd is.

    The engagement is simple: there is no right to asylum based on domestic violence, period. Furthermore, even for genuine asylum seekers, very few of them are eligible for asylum in the US.

    And make no mistake, this isn't anti illegal, this is anti-immigrant.

    Asylum seekers are not immigrants.

  • Sarcastr0||

    That you think engagement is just ipse dixit contradiction shows how little you care to think about the issue.

    Narrowing asylum and hiding behind legal necessity is mean and nasty and below what America should be to the world.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Look, if you engage with something you disagree with, you are, by definition, going to be contradicting it. But we're not just asserting the contrary view, we're also explaining it.

    This isn't a matter of narrowing asylum. It's a matter of refusing to expand it. There are actual rules governing asylum, and Sessions overturned an attempt to change them.

    You're perfectly free to think that it's mean and nasty for the US to not be the world's domestic abuse shelter. If you can get enough people to agree with you, you can win elections and get the law changed.

    But Sessions is right about the law, and Somin wrong. And you're just complaining that upholding the existing law is mean and nasty.

  • Sarcastr0||

    There are two different arguments Prof. Somin puts forth. Neither are 'open boarders wheee!'

    One is that Sessions is incorrect legally. Precious few people are addressing that.
    The other is that Sessions is incorrect morally. No one is really addressing that either, they are all hiding behind the legal necessity. The argument they are not addressing.

    When people are deflecting a moral argument by turning to a legal one, and then not really addressing any countervailing legal argument, they're rationalizing away morality. It's sad.

  • VinniUSMC||

    Everything Somin posts about immigration, taken as a whole, boils down to "open boarders[sic] wheee!"

    Nice strawman though.

    No one's addressing the moral argument because it's irrelevant. What the law is, is the only thing that is relevant. And that's been addressed plenty. You just think it's morally wrong, therefore legally wrong.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Vinni, Prof Somin has a purpose, but he also has arguments that don't rely on that.

    If you buy that argument works against Prof Somin, you need to buy his argument about Sessions' history means you can't trust his legal analysis.

    All I see about the moral argument is unsupported floodgates, illiterate 3rd-worlders, and arguing that mercy shouldn't be part of policymaking.

  • Careless||

    you need to buy his argument about Sessions' history means you can't trust his legal analysis.

    You don't need to rely on Sessions' analysis. You can rely on basically anyone else's who doesn't make laughable claims about entire countries being out to get one battered woman

  • Sarcastr0||

    The appeals to incredulity doesn't wash; there were at least two tribunals who disagree with you. Probably because your framing may differ from theirs. Do you think they were acting in bad faith, like you're decided Somin must be?

    The complete lack of engagement is a sight to behold.

  • swood1000||

    The other is that Sessions is incorrect morally. No one is really addressing that either, they are all hiding behind the legal necessity.

    But morality is up to Congress, right? If they don't add specific moral rules to the statute then morality doesn't play a role in the granting of asylum, right? What moral principles are you saying are applicable here?

  • Sarcastr0||

    If discretion is given - and it is - morality is up to the one executing the laws.

  • swood1000||

    If discretion is given - and it is - morality is up to the one executing the laws.

    So your position is that an open-ended discretion is given to the Executive Branch to accept an asylum-seeker if the Executive Branch determines that morality requires it? Could you point to the part of the statute that says that?

    And if it did say that, and "morality is up to the one executing the laws," then why do you complain about the decision of the attorney general? It's not your morality that is the measuring stick. It's his.

  • swood1000||

    And could you succinctly state the moral principle that you believe was contravened in the Attorney General's statement?

  • ||

    Yes, my issue with immigration is not the illegal versus legal, it's the fact that it's all from the third world. I don't want any unskilled, third worlders whether from legal avenues or not.

  • FlameCCT||

    Include yourself with the ad hominems here. The problem is that Prof Somin is arguing against the law as written and expecting the AG to violate the law as written instead of upholding the law. Just as he uses cites where judges have created decisions that violate the law.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    How did wingnuts react when a kooky family (from Germany?) wanted asylum in the United States based on a desire to homeschool? Those yahoos claimed it was religious persecution, but plenty of Christians manage to avoid being on the lam for trying to deny their children a proper education.

    I salute the principles and consistency of those who opposed asylum for that homeschool-bent family and currently support the Sessions approach. I have no respect to for those who were willing to provide shelter for the homeschool kooks but show the back of the hand to battered women.

  • XM||

    Yeah, that's like one family from Germany who was at risk of losing their freedom by the hands of their government based on their religious belief. It's an unusual situation that fits the criteria of asylum.

    You're saying we should accept victims of domestic abuse from every society where due process rights and protection for victims is either weak or non existent. That's probably 70% of the world.

  • Eidde||

    Weak sauce, how about finding a woman who faces prison in her home country for trying to assert equal rights with men. That might be somewhat more analogous to the totally non-kooky German government insisting that it's not enough for children to be educated, they have to be educated in factory-like collective settings (public or private) whose educational philosophy the parents may not share. Because we surely must defer to the expertise of the Germans on the benefits of group socialization.

  • bernard11||

    When did you learn so much about German education?

  • KevinP||

    "I have no respect for those who ... show the back of the hand to battered women."

    I agree completely. There are way too many Americans who batter immigrant women.

    New Yorker: Four Women Accuse New York's Democratic Attorney General of Physical Abuse

    Quotes:
    Eric Schneiderman, New York's attorney general, has long been a liberal Democratic champion of women's rights, and recently he has become an outspoken figure in the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment... As his prominence as a voice against sexual misconduct has risen, so, too, has the distress of four women with whom he has had romantic relationships or encounters. They accuse Schneiderman of having subjected them to nonconsensual physical violence. All have been reluctant to speak out, fearing reprisal. But two of the women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, have talked to The New Yorker on the record, because they feel that doing so could protect other women. They allege that he repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent. Manning Barish and Selvaratnam categorize the abuse he inflicted on them as "assault." They did not report their allegations to the police at the time, but both say that they eventually sought medical attention after having been slapped hard across the ear and face, and also choked.
  • OtisAH||

    Is your defense of battered women universal, or is it reserved solely for instances in which you can score a cheap political point?

  • VinniUSMC||

    Public education seems to have failed you Otis.

  • Sarcastr0||

    You don't see how KevinP's cherry-picked anecdote is only underscoring how hard he's ignoring the actual battered women the OP is discussing?

  • Careless||

    Congratulations, AK: through your ineptitude, you've shown why Somin is wrong. In the case of German homeschoolers, there really is a government out to get them

    Now, I have no idea if not being able to homeschool your kids rises to the level of something that should grant asylum, but the point is where the threat is coming from

  • AmosArch||

    given the he said she said highly personal nature of dv. Giving out dv asylum is essentially giving more than half the entire population a free ticket here. But I suspect thats why Prof Somin likes this idea in the first place. Also in most cases the country isn't personally ruled by your abusive spouse you usually have other options than leaving an entire nation in order to escape one person or their family. Also other natiions besides the US have functioning legal systems. Somin must really have a very low opinion of Hispanic countries.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Perhaps we should just make the whole world American by conquering it. Then no one would even have to travel to the US to be American. As residency and territory would become automatic and compulsory.

    Problem solved.

  • SIV||

    Only if they pay tribute, lots of tribute.

  • FlameCCT||

    I'm sure the Progressives would be all on board for One World Gov't controlled by the USA and they receive "tribute" aka taxes from all over the world.

  • DarrenM||

    Yes. I suppose if the woman in question were domestically abused by the dictatorial leader of the nation, there might be a case.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Guatemalan women have to trek 1400 miles and two countries just to get away from domestic violence? That sure sounds like a problem, but it doesn't sound like OUR problem.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I will begin to believe right-wingers are motivated by principle on immigration (rather than by bigotry) when they deport Ovechkin.

  • KevinP||

    Obama and the Democrats openly admitted that the push to legalize illegal aliens was to gain electoral advantage and had nothing to do with how much and what kind of immigration is good for the US.

    LEAKED MEMO: DREAMers Are 'Critical' To Dems 'Future Electoral Success'


    Quotes:
    The Center For American Progress (CAP) Action Fund circulated a memo on Monday calling illegal immigrants brought here at a young age — so-called "Dreamers" — a "critical component of the Democratic Party's future electoral success."
    ...
    CAP Action's memo says protecting DACA is not only a "moral imperative" for Democrats, it also key to getting votes.

    "The fight to protect Dreamers is not only a moral imperative, it is also a critical component of the Democratic Party's future electoral success," reads Palmieri's memo, obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

    "If Democrats don't try to do everything in their power to defend Dreamers, that will jeopardize Democrats' electoral chances in 2018 and beyond," reads the memo. "In short, the next few weeks will tell us a lot about the Democratic Party and its long-term electoral prospects."

  • M.L.||

    So the openly stated goal of massive waves of immigration is to increase Democrat votes, and with that all of their socialist policies, racist identity politics and so on.

    Of course, the Chamber of Commerce is also in favor because they want to make damn sure that wages don't go up.

    Wow, these folks are making me and millions of others think we should just stop immigration altogether for a while. From indifferent toward the status quo to favoring zero immigration.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Saying supporting immigrants will get Dems votes is not the same as the immigrants are the ones who will vote Dem, ML.

  • MJBinAL||

    However, that IS what they meant and you are being obtuse.

  • Sarcastr0||

    No, it ISN'T what they meant and you're being paranoid.

    [Just because it's a right-wing drumbeat doesn't mean you can forgo actual evidence to put words into Democrats' mouth.]

  • M.L.||

    Sarcastro, Are you kidding? Leftwing pundits have long cheered and proclaimed future victory, solely on the basis of the demographic makeover and vote dilution that they are currently engineering. You have to be very willfully blind to deny this.

    Now, importantly, I fully reject their twisted racialist views about people and politics. If I accepted their racialist paradigm, that would make me as racist as I believe they are. It seems to me that a conservative who accepts their paradigm should quite rationally seek to exclude from immigrating, to the maximum extent possible, populations more likely to vote for socialism.

    I don't think that way. On the other hand, the importance of assimilation, community, and cultural cohesion is obvious. It is amazing that, even as a nation of immigrants, we have today reached an all time record high level of foreign born population. Last time that happened, immigration was stopped. Couple this with the general disintegration of community like that detailed by R. Putnam, and the aforementioned counterproductive efforts of some, and you have a bad direction.

    In addition, wage growth has been dismal for the same period during which we started the modern regime of mass immigration. Entitlement programs are set to go broke in a few short years. It's time to focus on setting conditions for a free market economy that provides self-sufficiency to the working class.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Yes, demographics are in Democrats' favor without some badly planned agenda to have immigrants come in and then waiting for them to become citizens and start voting in appreciable levels.

    That's not a plausible plan because of the timeline involved. It's also not necessary due to existing demographic plans.
    ===========================
    As to your argument that we should constrain who gets in on who has policies you like, that's quite autocratic of you, and I'm glad you're not in charge. It's one step from that to restricting the vote to people who tend to agree with you.

    And the ide that immigrants these days won't assimilate like they used to is actual straight-up bigotry. Just because it's against immigrants and not a particular race doesn't make it less ugly. It's indistinguishable from the continually disproven arguments of centuries past.

    And wages are pretty weakly correlated with immigration. Lots of other factors are a better correlative (monetary policy, strong unions, etc).

  • M.L.||

    You're very confused. I never said anything like "immigrants these days won't assimilate like they used to." I said that assimilation is important, and that last time immigration reached this level we paused it. Assimilation also takes time. This only covers a small portion of your confusion.

  • OtisAH||

    Yeah, they're "making you."

  • MJBinAL||

    Yep, in much the same way you are making me nauseus. Again.

  • Sarcastr0||

    ML has been hostile to immigration generally since he first appeared on this blog. His 'you're making me consider' argument is highly dubious.

  • M.L.||

    The thing that has always bugged me is the use of false accusations of racism to further a political agenda, one that is not in the best interests of the country. That is most prevalent on the issue of immigration. I've actually expressed comfort in the past with the status quo in terms of legal immigration levels, refugee programs and so on. But as we all know, there are some who want to go beyond that, to normalize and encourage illegal immigration, and even to have something approaching a de facto open borders policy. I see this as essentially dissolving the country and its identity, and along with that everything good about the U.S. and the good it does here and around the world. Immigration is also a compelling issue because there is perhaps no other issue with such a wide gulf between public opinion and what the ossified political establishment and their puppet masters are willing to even legitimately consider.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Funny, I said hostile to immigration which you have copped to above. And yet you read it as racism. Reaching a bit far for victimhood no?

    I recall back in 2012 or so you came off the break being for closing the borders, though I'm happy to be proven wrong if you have a cite.

  • M.L.||

    Nope. I was trying to offer an explanation for your perception that I have always been hostile to immigration, which isn't true. I have been hostile to, and have often commented on, false accusations of racism, typically in the context of illegal immigration issues. Sorry this was unclear.

    I just checked, and the first time I ever commented on this blog was late 2014. I never suggested halting legal immigration until just now, can't prove a negative though.

  • DarrenM||

    I will begin to believe right-wingers are motivated by principle on immigration (rather than by bigotry) when they deport Ovechkin.

    No you won't.

  • ||

    I'm motivated by principle in that I think those who are more likely to assimilate should get priority, and since race is essential to the human condition, whites are more likely to assimilate and should thus get priority. So all else equal, a German Protestant who wants to immigrate should get priority over a Somali Muslim or a pagan El Salvadoran.

  • mad_kalak||

    12% of the country is black, and Hispanics, who are technically white are 17% of the populace. There is plenty of like for like for assimilation if that is the argument you are making.

    Race is a terrible anti-immigration argument, and will never win anyone over. The reality is that cultural differences make for assimilation or not, race =/= culture. A black immigrant from Trinidad is more likely to assimilate (and they do), than a black Somali Mohammedan (and they don't). Likewise, an El Salvadoran, who by 2nd or 3rd generation have already merged like the Irish did.

    And tell me now, do you consider all Catholics pagans?

  • ||

    Except that a large portion of blacks and Hispanics, while a combined 29% of the population (and no, most Hispanics are not white, even if the Census counts them as such) have not really assimilated into the American mainstream. You're right that there are plenty of like to assimilate to, but that would result in assimilating to the barrios, not to anything that we consider productive for society.

    You're right that race will not win most people over now, as we've had 70 years of brainwashing. But at some point, people will realize (yes, even white liberals) that race will never be irrelevant.

    No, I don't consider all Catholics pagans. I do consider most Latin American "Catholics" pagans, as they subscribe to a form of Catholicism that integrates many Pagan beliefs and practices from the Aztecs and Mayans from whom they are descended.

  • mad_kalak||

    Sorry. Hispanics, scientifically, are not a race. They are an ethnicity. If you want to question their whiteness, especially since there was a lot of mixing with natives tribes in South America, by all means feel free to do so. But they have always been considered white, for example, in racially segregated Texas from the time of their Republic until after integration. That doesn't mean that they faced no discrimination, but they also had full legal rights, unlike blacks.

    It's been more than 70 years people have made the arguments about assimilation and race. You forget your history. Lincoln wanted to deport all the freed slaves, but Douglas convinced him that they were American now, and he wasn't wrong, in that they certainly weren't African at that point, now were they?

    As for your ideas about Latin American Catholics, they are misguided, and I wonder what is the source of your beliefs on the issue. They sound like right out of Jack Chick comic.

  • ||

    Hispanics are not a race. However, most Hispanics are not white, but are mestizos, a mix of European and Amerindian. Unless nearly 100% of their ancestors are from Spain, they're not white, and will not look white.

  • mad_kalak||

    Now we are talking past each other. Mexican and South American hispanics, with the exception of Argentina perhaps, did mix significantly with native tribes. I'm not denying that. But what you're also doing is mixing cultural and scientific definitions of race and ethnicity at your convenience. Moreover, the definition of "white" has changes quite considerably in just the past hundred years or so. Dark skinned Italians, whom perhaps in line up are indistinguishable from a Hispanic, were not at one time considered white. At one time the Irish weren't considered white. Lunacy that.

    You wanna make a case that illiterate non-English speaking groups from poor 3rd world countries with low average IQ shouldn't come here, that's a valid argument. Your shifting definitions of which group is white, and that only whites should come here, is not. America has never been, and never will be, an ethnostate like Poland.

  • ||

    Except that the claims that Italians were not white were patiently false. That doesn't mean that claims that Mayan/Aztec descended Hispanics are not white is also false.

    In any case, America was basically an ethnostate until 1965. Other than small numbers of others and the descendants of African slaves, the population was white. It was multi-ethnic, not multiracial and not multicultural.

  • mad_kalak||

    What makes claims that Italians are not white false, and claims that hispanics are not white correct? To you, it's the amount of Indian admixture. I regret to inform you that Sicilians have a lot of Moorish admixture.

    America was never an ethnostate, it was just majority white rule. An ethnostate is
    Poland or Japan, where the country consists of all one ethnicity or race and there are virtually no minorities, and if there are, their numbers are so minuscule that the majority can just ignore them. That was never America. The 3/5 rule existed for a reason, the population of slaves in the South was so high relatives to whites, that the North didn't want to give the South greater representation. There were not "small numbers" of blacks. A cursory internet search will show you that, as per the 1860 Census, that slaves made up between 13% (Maryland) and 55% (Mississippi) of the population in the South (and yes I know Maryland didn't join the Confederacy).

  • mad_kalak||

    *that blacks still made up only 13% of the population in 1860 for the entire nation doesn't discount the point, because 13% is to large of a minority for an actual ethnostate, and moreover, states in America are much more fully independent political units (especially prior to the Civil War or the New Deal) than the states in other actual ethnostate nations. Thus a 55% majority population of slaves in Mississippi means you get an ass backwards logical result if you think Mississippi was a white enthostate in 1860.

  • MJBinAL||

    Ah, but do right wingers care what you think?

    Is there any proof you CAN think?

    Enquiring minds what to know!

  • FlameCCT||

    Does it hurt being this ignorant RAK?
    Or just normal for a Progressive serf?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Are there really people here who think that domestic violence is a legit age reason to be granted asylum in the US?

    I mean, it's not. It isn't a condition for asylum under international law, and even if it were, the only eligible folks would be Canadians and Mexicans, based on proximity requirements and those aforementioned laws.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Somin thinks being alive is a legit reason to be grated asylum in the US.

  • MJBinAL||

    I question your statement because I see no evidence that Somin thinks.

  • XM||

    There's always room for some compassion in these matters, but I largely agree with the conservative take on this decision.

    Asylum should be granted to people at risk of wide and immediate persecution due to their faith, race, and some other attributes. We eventually had to go to war to save those Jews from the concentration camps. Should we go to war against Honduras, or impose economic sanctions on them to end their human rights abuse? If you say no, then you're making a distinction between ethnic cleansing and individual cases of domestic abuse.

    Canada won't admit 20 thousand South Americans annually because they're fleeing from violence. Neither will most of the world. It wouldn't be fair for accuse any of these countries of cruelty because they have their own asylum standards.

    Consider how brain drain affected Puerto Rico, which used to be quite wealthy (or so I hear). A gray area asylum policy would have created unintended consequences in the future. Even Obama sent back migrants trying to enter the country. Asylum requests have increased tremendously in the last 10 years or so.

  • Thor||

    I have not been fond of Sessions but he is spot on with this. We are not a dumping ground for the worlds abused. Not our problem.

  • Mark22||

    Somin's arguments are so absurd that I wonder whether he is actually serious.

    Not only is it unacceptable to force US taxpayers to pay for dealing with domestic violence halfway around the globe by relocating the victims here, it's not even an effective way of dealing with the problem.

  • RCCA||

    I can't consider "abused women" as a social group subjected to persecution because they are women. That's pushing the definition of persecution of a social group beyond its intended meaning. Claiming that status might even be considered racist, considering the high rates of domestic violence in brown skinned countries -- in the Hispanic and the Muslim world as well. Are we saying that persecution of all women is part of their culture?

  • DarrenM||

    What are the criteria to be able to claim asylum? Is "domestic abuse" one of them? I'd always though it was just political persecution of some kind, but I freely admit I'm not really up on it. Do we have an obligation to give asylum to anyone in the world who claims they are a victim of domestic abuse? How many people would that be at a guess?

  • Echospinner||

    There are also many millions facing political persecution we could not possibly handle all of them. Yet they do not all show up at the border and request asylum. I guess the question is how many do show up requesting asylum on that basis. Another question is should there be asylum at all?

    Don't know this woman's story but people do not do what she did just to make a few more bucks per hour.

  • Independent_Forever||

    Simply because you are in bad times in your own country does NOT equate to qualifying for "political asylum" --- THAT'S RIDICULOUS!! This has nothing to do with being cruel or arbitrary or anything of the sort. Liberals would love nothing more than to ship in thousands upon thousands of immigrants into our nation who would, overwhelmingly, vote Democrat and leftist to maintain their goal of destroying our nation as we know it. Does anyone actually believe Democrats "care" about these people.....please! I believe this N Korea dictator more than I believe fellow Americans mainly because this nation is as full of liars and hypocrites now...and it is sad we cannot even trust our own citizens to live honorably. Liars, frauds and hypocrites throughout this govt...

  • ReaderY||

    I think our fundamental problem is this:

    1. The courts have declared personhood to be a binary. That which is not a person "in the full sense of the world" might as well be chopped meat, and that which is not chopped meat inexorably has fully equal rights.

    2. There are several categories of humans, fetuses and foreigners among them, who ought to occupy an intermediate status, neither fully equal rights in society nor mere chopped meat.

    3. Roe set up a test to determine what is a person. Fetuses fail that test. But so do foreigners. Professor Simon has argued that the importation clause refers to foreignors as persons. The difficulty with this is that a clause which provides for humans to be imported as cargo against their will treats them pretty much as chopped meat, and is hardly consistent with their being regarded as persons "in the full sense of the word," the standard. Three fifths isn't good enough. And it's the only clause where there's even an argument.

    4. Professor Somin, whose view is consistent, has articulated some consequences of viewing foreigners as full persons. For example, you can't kick them out of the country for anything, even the severest crimes.

  • ReaderY||

    (Cont.)

    5. Justice Ginsberg expressed the fullest extent of the chopped meat position in the first Carhart case, when she argued that compassion for chopped meat is unconstitutional. If you can lawfully kill the thing, then it's religious superstition and hokum to concern oneself with how it's treated before it dies. Torture shmorture! Pain schmain! Cruelty schmuelty.

    6. Foreigners can also be killed so far as the constitution concerned. Enemy aliens were considered outlaws at common law and could be killed, on sight, by any citizen. We could withdraw from treaties saying otherwise at any time. With just a few acts of Congress, we could lawfully herd any foreigners we want into death camps and turn on the gas.

    7. The way out is to transgress the personhood binary - to recognize, at the very least, an intermediate position between full personhood (full right to be here) and chopped meat (people who worry about whether it's being tortured are basically unAmerican). The only solution is recognition of an intermediate state. Neither full rights, nor scoffing at compassion.

    8. In many respects I think Justice Ginsberg's over-the-top scoffing of even the very idea of compassion invites the situation we are in. And I blame her for it. If people are taught compassion is stupid, this tends to make them cruel.

    9. Indeed I fear the left's attack on compassion as unAmerican is coming home to roost.

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    I can understand someone who has experienced domestic violence wanting to come here. The U.S. has among the lowest rates of domestic/sexual violence in the world, among surveyed countries. Over a 12-month period, 1.5% of U.S. women report abuse (half or more of those after initiating the violence).

    El Salvador? 7.7%.

    But that's is not a /particularly/ high rate of DV. Some numbers from other countries in the Americas:
    Brazil: 14.8%
    Costa Rica: 8%
    Dominican Republic: 11.7%
    Ecuador: 17.6%
    Haiti: 16.8%
    Honduras: 8.6%
    Mexico: 40.2% (!)
    Nicaragua: 9.3%
    Peru: 14.2%

    /All/ have DV rates higher than El Salvador's! Shall we grant asylum to every woman in any Central or South American country who has experienced DV? Especially Mexico?

    But it gets worse! Not all industrialized countries have low DV rates. El Salvador has lower DV rates than:
    Czech Republic: 9%
    Finland: 7.9%
    France: 10%

    Do battered French women get asylum, too?

    Others, such as the U.K. (5.9%), New Zealand (5.7%), and Norway (5.5%) don't have much lower rates than El Salvador. Do we shelter Norwegian abuse victims? (please!)

    You want more? Here are a handful. And they aren't isolated by /any/ means.
    Egypt: 21.7%
    Ethiopia: 53.7%
    India: 23.9%

    So open the floodgates, Ilya Somin! A woman who is battered in /most/ of the world would qualify for asylum by your standard. El Salvador indeed!

    UN source

  • Ben_||

    Who told Ilya that the US exists primarily as a refuge for everyone in the world who can tell a sad story? That's not the purpose of the US, Ilya. We're actually a country and a people. We have lives of our own -- full, regular lives -- not just shadows or the hollow shells you must imagine, waiting for someone to arrive from across the border to substantiate us.

  • OtisAH||

    The Statue of Liberty told him.

  • Ben_||

    Stop talking to statues Ilya! They have limited insight.

  • ||

    Liberals like Somin believe that the U.S. is a propositional nation. In other words, that America's Anglo-Protestant origins are completely unconnected from America today, and that race and nationhood is entirely irrelevant. That America is what it is because of vague precepts like the "rule of law" and "due process" and not because of its historic population.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The Man Of Many Names is probably referring to the benevolent white men of America's yesteryear rather than to the violent racists, ignorant misogynists, superstitious goobers, etc.

    America is what it is today in large part because we rejected and defeated plenty of Anglo-Protestants from its historic population.

    If you like bigots and backwardness, of course, this comment probably isn't your cup of tea.

  • vek||

    Soooo much nonsense. Most of which has already been stated, but seriously! Any illiterate from a 3rd world country should just be able to show up here, say they got hit by their boyfriend and stay... Because leaving to another country was THE ONLY way to deal with an asshole boyfriend??? GIVE ME A BREAK.

    How much of a mindless bleeding heart does somebody have to be to believe that?

    As for the oppressive regime in general thing... The entire world population lives in oppressive regimes! They throw you in prison for speech in the UK, which is one of the freer countries on earth. So we're just supposed to let in the entire population of some country because they have a shit government?

    You people are ridiculous. You cannot follow through the logic of your nonsense ideas to their logical conclusion. We can't allow in over 1 billion Chinese because they live in a shitty country. We can't do that even for El Salvador. These shit holes need to fix their own countries, because we simply can't absorb all those people without destroying our own standard of living and freedom in the process... So sorry foreigners, I don't want you to come here and incrementally screw up my country.

  • ||

    To the Marxists, destroying our own standard of living and liberty is a feature, not a bug.

  • vek||

    So it is. That's the thing that too many purist libertarians don't seem to get. Even if you believe in something in principle, it doesn't mean there might not be negative repercussion in the real world. What if the negative repercussions are worse for overall freedom than the freedom you give up with freedom of movement? That's the case IMO.

    I understand the theory of freedom of movement... But there are just too many practical downsides in the real world as it exists.

    The left long ago recognized that new immigrants, especially poor and low skilled ones, with no understanding of the principles America was founded on can be easily manipulated to favor big government. THEY accept reality for what it is. They lie about it publicly of course, but they know the truth. The right/libertarians still like to believe in a fairy tale version of how low skill immigration works, with no regard for the objective facts.

  • Lee Moore||

    Leaving aside Prof Somin's legal analysis, which is based on (a) an eccentric interpretation of "particular social group" and (b) a Nelsonian blind eye directed at the requirement for a causal connection between the persecution and the social group ("on account of") the rest is the usual business of assuming the conclusion. Because the state may not exclude anyone, the state may not exclude anyone. OK then.

    But we don't live in a Nozickian minimal state, and most of us, including most Reason readers, don't want to. Nor, in the end, did Nozick himself. Real states all claim the right to determine which foreigners are allowed to enter, and on what terms. And their citizens do not criticize them for doing so.

    Michael Huemer, who Prof Somin prays in aid sets out the basis for his analysis this : "I aim to rest conclusions on widely-shared ethical intuitions about relatively specific cases" before immediately constructing a tendentious hypothetical about a fellow called Sam blocking a starving foreign fellow called Marvin from buying food in a store. The fact that Sam is a US border guard and that Marvin is crossing the border illegally to get to the store have somehow been left out of the discussion.

  • Lee Moore||

    The widely shared ethical intuitions about immigration are that the state has the right to determine which foreigners enter its national territory and on what terms. Which seems to conclude the discussion on whether the state has the right to exclude foreigners much more briefly than Somin and Huemer's smoke and mirrors. I can assume my conclusion too, and what's more my assumption does actually refect widely shared ethical intuitions.

    Moving on to asylum, I would propose a more realistic (and, for that matter, widely shared) ethical intuition about the moral right to asylum. There is no such moral right. Asylum is an act of mercy. No one has a moral right to an act of mercy. To the extent to which the people choose to codify in law the terms on which they expect their government to show mercy to asylum seekers, and thereby limit the government's discretion in the matter, that is the ordinary warp and weft of democracy – the people exercising supervision over their government. It has nothing whatever to do with any supposed "moral rights" of asylum seekers.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Leaving aside his legal analysis because it's eccentric (ignoring the previous Justice Department Board of Immigration Appeals decisions), lets talk about open borders bad.

    I also think open borders are bad. But I also think asylum for stuff like this is just fine. It's been the policy for a while and hasn't opened up the floodgates.

    Going into philosophical maximal hypotheticals dodges the fact that an entire political party wants to take a real world moral stand against extending a hand to these vetted people running from suffering.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Mercy isn't a moral right...doesn't mean you can't argue for mercy.

  • Lee Moore||

    Agreed. I'm all in favor of mercy. IMHO the best way to avoid asylum being an end run around immigration rules, and making it purely about unimpeachable pleas for mercy would be to take it out of the court system entirely. Recognise that no one has a right to asylum, it's just mercy.

    Create an Asylum Commission with equal representation from both parties, and require unanimity. The President (or his minion) can then, as an act of pure unreviewable discretion, either grant or refuse asylum to anyone with a unanimous recommendation from the Commission.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Except there is no evidence that this has been being used as an end run to any appreciable level. It's all supposition and hypothetical.

  • Lee Moore||

    We'll have to agree to differ on whether 94,000 - 5,000 = 89,000 a year, or as I mentioned previously 1 to 2% of the US population over 20 years, is "appreciable."

    As I also mentioned previously, asylum clearly has been used as an end run around the immigration rules in other countries - eg the UK - where the numbers are more like 5% of the population in 20 years. (That's 5% of the total population, but a much higher proportion in the big cities.)

    We also have clear evidence that US politicians are quite happy to use provisions allowing individual discretion on a mass basis as end runs round inconvenient laws - see Gov McAuliffe and felon voting. Nor was he an egregious outlier. I don't recall any Democrat politician criticising him.

    So I suspect your threshold for hypothesis and supposition is quite high. You must be the sort of fellow who sleeps soundly during artillery bombardments.

  • Lee Moore||

    Briefly picking up what we're leaving aside (the legal analysis) as swood points out, Sessions' determination overturns precedent dating back as far as…..2014. And, amusingly, since we're talking about a reversal of precedent, the 2014 decision itself was in response to a 180 degree backflip by Obama's DHS, changing the view of the Bush DHS. So we understand the principle at stake. A backflip by a Democrat administration from the policy of a Republican is a correction. A backflip by a Republican administration from the policy of a Democrat administration is an egregious overturning of precedent :)

    On inspection, the precedent in question – that a woman subject to domestic violence was a member of the particular social group : "married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship" was itself a reversal of an earlier precedent in which the tribunal had found that :

    "… the proffered social group was "defined principally, if not exclusively, for purposes of" the asylum case and that it was unclear whether "anyone in Guatemala perceives this group to exist in any form whatsoever," including spousal abuse victims themselves or their male oppressors. "

    Which is as direct a summary of the "particular social group" offered in this case as one could wish to find.

  • Lee Moore||

    In short, the game is to inspect the characteristics of the asylum seeker and then to draw a squiggly line around her, taking in various other persons as share a couple of the asylum seeker's characteristics, and claim that the contents of object enclosed by the squiggly line is a "particular social group." This can obviously be done for anyone on the planet. In truth, domestic violence victims in Guatemala are not a particular social group, any more than are dyslexic left handers in Oklahoma. What they are is a collection of individuals who can be rhetorically glued together with adjectives.

  • MJBinAL||

    I wish this article was intended as humor. It IS a joke, in it's own sad way.

    Pray tell me what does NOT qualify as a reason for asylum Ilya? Oppression BY AN INDIVIDUAL, means that you are justified in smuggling yourself across multiple national boundries (where IF you are truly qualified for asylum, international law required you to apply in the first one) to reach the United States?

    This twisted, absurd line of logic should get your ass fired from George Mason Law for incompetence. Since it probably will not, it should stand out to potential students as an example of why they should not attend here. Obviously the quality of the professors is poor.

  • ScottK||

    It is rare that I agree with Professor Somin on a (relatively) complex issue such as this one, but the exception proves the rule, I suppose.

    Right wing "Patriot" types longing for the old white European patriarchy need not fear being America being overrun by battered women who will not sleep with them. The U.S. is fairly low on the list of desirable places to seek asylum since we do not guarantee access to health care, the middle class is shriveling and we are increasingly perceived as a country of crazed gun nuts who hate foreigners.

    Can't imagine why that is, but so it goes.

  • Tall Paul||

    So why do so many foreign citizens keep trying to sneak across our borders? Are they just in transit to Canada, or what?

  • swood1000||

    They aren't eligible for asylum in Canada because of the Canada–United States Safe Third Country Agreement.

  • ScottK||

    Sneaking is off topic. Asylums seekers present themselves.

  • swood1000||

    When asylum rules are liberalized, sneakers become asylum seekers.

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    ScottK: "The U.S. is fairly low on the list of desirable places to seek asylum since ... blah, blah, blah..."

    Absolute nonsense! Of those who say they would like to permanently leave their country, the U.S. is by /far/ the number one country that people want to move to, with almost four times (!) the number who choose the second place country (Germany).

    World Economic Forum/Gallup data

    And ... it isn't only "Right Wing Patriot Types" who see Somin's argument as terrible.
    .

  • vek||

    I WISH the fact that we love guns and hate foreigners was enough to keep them all from coming! That would be AWESOME. But it's not true. We're still the wealthiest large country on earth, and the most influential. Everybody wants to come here, or so says every poll ever done on the subject.

    Maybe we should become MORE anti foreigner and MORE pro gun and that will finally convince them all to stop coming?

  • Tall Paul||

    Not turning the United States into a battered women's shelter for everyone in the world, including men, is "arbitrary cruelty"?

  • Sarcastr0||

    What's happening is we're rolling back a policy that somehow managed NOT to turn America into the world's battered womens' shelter.

    The commitment to ignoring the trees for the forest is really strong.

  • swood1000||

    What's happening is we're rolling back a policy that somehow managed NOT to turn America into the world's battered womens' shelter.

    However, the policy being rolled back dates only from August of 2014. I wonder how many people have been granted asylum since then because of claimed domestic violence. It does seem to be the type of policy that would dramatically expand the number of people eligible for asylum.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Well why bother with evidence when you can speculate yourself to the conclusion you want!
    Do some research, man.

    The number of people who told homeland security officials that they had a credible fear of persecution jumped to 94,000 in 2016 from 5,000 in 2009, he said in a speech earlier in the day

    A jump in proportion, but still very small compared to immigration. Hardly something to be persnickety about.

    But bang-up politics if you have some hostility to signal to your base.

  • Lee Moore||

    Depends on how you do the sums. 94,000 a year for 20 years is just about 2 million, assuming no children at all. Since asylum seekers are usually young, and come from countries with high birthrates, no children is unlikely. So even at a measly 94.000 a year, you're talking 1-2% of the US population within 20 years.

    Since Europe has been playing this game for longer - in the UK for example, changes to immigration law in the 1980s and 1990s had almost identical numerical effects - asylum claims jumped from the 5,000 a year that had been the norm since WW2, up to 75,000 - 100,000 a year. Which when you add it up for twenty years comes to quite a lot of people. Now it's obviously absurd to claim that oppression in foreign lands suddenly jumped by a factor of 20 (either with respect to asylum claims in the UK in the 1990s or with respect to claims in the US in the last ten years.) The reality is simply that asylum has become a good legal tactic for economic migrants (as demonstated perfectly by Guatemalans wandering all the way through Mexico to get to the US) and is encouraged by politicians of the left and liberal judges (but I repeat myself.)

    Unilateral asylum disarmament would simply increase the number of claims from 94,000 a year to 940,000 a year over the next ten years.

  • swood1000||

    Well why bother with evidence when you can speculate yourself to the conclusion you want!
    Do some research, man. … A jump in proportion, but still very small compared to immigration. Hardly something to be persnickety about.

    We're talking about a rule saying that being a victim of private criminal activity constitutes a cognizable "particular social group" for purposes of an application for asylum, and asking what the effect of such a rule would be on the number of people granted asylum.

    Your argument seems to be that it's not rationale to suppose that such a rule would have much of an impact at all. Is that because you believe that few people otherwise ineligible would claim asylum on these grounds, even after such an approach became widely known?

  • Sarcastr0||

    Prof. Somin's argument is a lot more particularized than that and in your posts above you know that. Come on.

  • swood1000||

    I was asking you to defend your assertions or to correct my understanding of what you meant.

    A jump in proportion, but still very small compared to immigration. Hardly something to be persnickety about.

    Your argument seems to be that it's not rational to suppose that such a rule would have much of an impact at all. Is that because you believe that few people otherwise ineligible would claim asylum on these grounds, even after such an approach became widely known?

  • vek||

    The fact is the left is simply trying to use any half baked excuse they can come up with to let more low skill, low education people into the country. They've been a reliable left wing voting block, and they work AWESOME for playing identity politics. That's all this is.

    If somebody who has an asshole abusive boyfriend/girlfriend is a valid reason for being able to skirt the immigration laws for a country... Then would having my bike stolen count too? I might feel oppressed if my bike is stolen and I can't get around my town anymore! So now I need to go to a richer country where I can buy a better bike! Seems totally legit, right?

    Whether the absolute numbers are high or not, it is the principle. We don't need a bunch of half illiterates moving here. They serve no purpose, and do not make the country better. They tend to be net negative tax drains because of their low income. We simply don't need these types of people, no matter their country of origin.

  • Jinx Thinks||

    Why do we have to be the dumping ground for ALL the unemployable peoples of the world? If they were so smart and good, why on earth doesn't their country do everything possible to retain them. When our unemployment rate is at 0.1% then educated peoples can come on work permits. Until then, do what we do, work to change your circumstances at home. As far as domestic violence is concerned, MOVE AWAY FROM THE PROBLEM. Don't tell me you can move to the USA but can't afford to move 100 miles in your own country, or is it that there is no welfare money there?

  • TWW||

    Victims of domestic violence do not need or require an international solution to what is fundamentally a local family oriented problem. First, an international solution is not necessarily better and may be worse than a domestic solution (splitting families, e.g.). Second, individual instances of domestic violence can be hard to prove a compared to, say, a systematic persecution of Kurds or Coptic Christians. Third, geographic removal of a victim of domestic violence is not even a solution, per se. Does domestic violence occur in the United States? Is it assured that the victim will not be subject to domestic violence in the United States?

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