WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) today released the following statement on Attorney General Sessions’ decision to overturn key asylum protections for victims of domestic violence. The decision could prevent thousands of immigrants from qualifying for protection in the United States. In May, Klobuchar sent a letter to Sessions urging the Administration to maintain existing protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence seeking asylum in the United States. In the letter, Klobuchar and her colleagues stressed that overturning that precedent could create significant barriers for future domestic violence victims seeking protection from abusive partners in the United States.
“This is a bad decision that compromises the ability of victims of severe domestic violence to get protection in the United States from abusive partners. We cannot turn away the women, men, and children who so fear for their lives that they take extraordinary risks to flee their homes and come to our country for safety.”
Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and prior to her time in the Senate, Klobuchar served as Hennepin County Attorney. She is a national leader in the fight to prevent domestic violence. Klobuchar and Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) SAFER Act—legislation that would reauthorize, strengthen, and extend the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry program in an effort to help reduce the national rape kit backlog—was signed into law in January. In 2016, the Klobuchar-backed bipartisan Justice for All Reauthorization Act was signed into law. The law strengthens the rights of crime victims by providing the protection they need to restore their lives and enhances law enforcement’s ability to proactively stop violent criminals. The Justice for All Reauthorization Act also aims to reduce the rape kit backlog by supporting grant programs that fund forensic testing. Klobuchar has also championed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and led efforts to pass bipartisan legislation supporting survivors of sexual assault in the military.
In 2013, Klobuchar worked to pass the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill as a member of the Judiciary Committee. Klobuchar’s amendment to expand protections for domestic violence victims was included. Under current law, victims of abuse can either seek a U Visa, a visa for victims of certain crimes, from law enforcement officials, or self-petition for legal status under the Violence Against Women Act. However, U Visas can be difficult to obtain in some circumstances, and only spouses of U.S. citizens or permanent residents can self-petition for legal status. Klobuchar’s amendment allowed victims who are in the U.S. with spouses who entered on temporary visas to take advantage of the self-petitioning process and gain independent legal status.