In January 2021, the Acting Attorney General issued another decision in Matter of A-B- that further confuses and conflates the standards for asylum eligibility. Like the first A-B- decision and Matter of L-E-A-, this decision may not change the law in particular jurisdictions, but attorneys must still be prepared to respond.
*NIJC's Matter of A-B- Practice Advisory has been updated as of August 2020.
NIJC is at the forefront of the litigation and advocacy efforts to push back against attacks on asylum seekers and asylum protections.
Since the former Attorney General’s Matter of A-B- decision in June 2018, NIJC and our pro bono partners have successfully represented more many men, women, and children in asylum claims related to gender and gang violence and family membership, and are litigating issues related to A-B- and L-E-A- across the country. Below, attorneys representing asylum seekers with claims that are targeted by the Attorney General’s decisions can find additional information and links to materials that may be useful in the preparation of their cases.
2014: the BIA issues Matter of A-R-C-G-, a precedential decision finding that the group of "married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship" is a particular social group because it is socially distinct, particularly defined, and based on immutable characteristics.
June 2018: the former Attorney General issues Matter of A-B-, which overrules A-R-C-G- on procedural grounds because the former AG found the decision was a product of DHS concessions and not the application of law by the BIA.
December 2018: the D.C. District Court issues Grace v. Whitaker, a decision primarily regarding the application of the A-B- decision and the related USCIS Policy Memorandum in the credible fear process, but which also includes useful language for asylum claims. (Please see NIJC's updated Matter of A-B- practice advisory for more information.) USCIS subsequently issues guidance related to the implementation of the decision.
January 2019: the Department of Justice files an appeal in Grace. The Executive Office for Immigration Review issues guidance regarding Grace, asserting that it only applies in the credible fear context and has no effect on removal proceedings.
July 2019: the Attorney General issues Matter of L-E-A-, 27 I&N Dec. 581 (A.G. 2019), which overrules a portion of the Board of Immigration Appeals' decision in Matter of L-E-A-, 27 I&N Dec. 40 (BIA 2017) on the narrow question of whether the previous L-E-A- decision conducted a proper analysis of the particular social group posited in that case.
July 2020: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a decision in Grace v. Barr, affirming the District Court's decision in part and vacating in part. As with Grace v. Whitaker, the decision includes useful language for asylum claims even though the case is primarily about credible fear interviews. (Please see NIJC's updated Matter of A-B- practice advisory for more information.)
January 2021: The Acting Attorney General issued a second Matter of A-B- decision, Matter of A-B-, 28 I&N Dec. 199 (A.G. 2021) (A-B- II), purporting to provide “additional guidance” regarding three issues that arise in asylum case involving persecution by non-state actors. Although NIJC believes this decision does not generally impact case law in the Seventh Circuit, it seems likely to create additional confusion. (Updates to NIJC’s Matter of A-B- practice advisory are forthcoming; NIJC pro bono attorneys can request a sample brief that addresses A-B- II in the context of gender-based claims from their NIJC point-of contact.)