WASHINGTON DC- The US attorney general has ruled that victims of domestic abuse and gang violence should no longer generally qualify for asylum in the US.

Jeff Sessions’ ruling overturns a 2016 decision which granted asylum to a woman from El Salvador who had been raped and abused by her husband.

Activists criticised the move, saying it will affect tens of thousands.

Mr Sessions has said he has a “zero tolerance” stance toward illegal immigration on the country’s border.

“Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum,” Mr Sessions wrote in his 31-page ruling released on Monday.

“The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes – such as domestic violence or gang violence – or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim.”