Trump-era rules making it harder for violence victims to claim asylum overturned by Biden’s AG

Reversed rules made it more difficult for vulnerable people to claim asylum in the US

Chantal Da Silva
Thursday 17 June 2021 15:09
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<p>An immigrant family seeking asylum prepare to be taken to a border patrol processing facility after crossing into the US on 16 June, 2021 in La Joya, Texas. US Attorney General Merrick Garland has reversed two Trump-era asylum decisions.</p>

An immigrant family seeking asylum prepare to be taken to a border patrol processing facility after crossing into the US on 16 June, 2021 in La Joya, Texas. US Attorney General Merrick Garland has reversed two Trump-era asylum decisions.

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The US Department of Justice has reversed a pair of Trump-era decisions that made it more difficult for vulnerable people to claim asylum in the US.

On Wednesday, the DOJ announced that Attorney General Merrick Garland had overturned the two decisions made by former Attorney Generals Jeff Sessions and William Barr.

The first decision, introduced by Mr Sessions and known as the Matter of A-B, had made it significantly more difficult for survivors of domestic violence or gang violence to qualify for asylum in the US.

The second, the matter of L-E-A, which was introduced by Mr Barr, had ruled that membership in a nuclear family did not qualify as a social group, meaning people whose families had been threatened could not expect to qualify for asylum on those grounds.

Both decisions were made through a unique “certification” power held by the US attorney general, allowing them to enforce far-reaching decisions through individual cases.

In a memo issued on Wednesday, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said Mr Garland was ordering immigration court judges to ignore the two decisions until a rulemaking process could be initiated with public comment.

Until then, immigration judges are expected to revert to the rules existing prior to the Trump-era orders being issued.

In her memo, Ms Gupta said the two decisions “involve important questions about the meaning of our Nation's asylum laws, which reflect America's commitment to providing refuge to some of the world's most vulnerable people”.

"Congress has authorised grants of asylum to those who, among other things, can show that they are fleeing persecution on account of their membership in a ‘particular social group,’" the associate attorney general said.

The “now-vacated decisions,” Ms Gupta said, “restricted the availability of asylum on that ground”.

“In today's decisions, the Attorney General explains that he is vacating L-E-A- II, A-B- I, and A-B- II to return the law to its preexisting status pending the rule-making process, which will allow these complex and important questions to be resolved with the benefit of full public comment,” her memo said.

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