The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) welcomes today’s federal district court ruling in Washington, D.C., severely limiting the harm of policies put in place by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to restrict access to asylum protections for people who come to the United States fleeing persecution at the hands of domestic abusers, gangs, or other non-state actors.
The court’s decision in Grace v. Whitaker confirms that it was legally flawed and impermissibly broad for the Trump administration to assert this summer, in a ruling known as Matter of A-B-, that people seeking asylum based on domestic and gang-based violence can rarely qualify for asylum. The decision also restores access to the asylum system for men and women with these claims who undergo their preliminary immigration screenings, known as credible fear interviews, at a U.S. border or other port of entry.
“The district court’s ruling reaffirms much of what experienced asylum attorneys already knew: the legal impact of the former attorney general’s decision is very narrow and people fleeing domestic and gang-based violence, and other persecution at the hands of private actors, still have a right to seek asylum,” said NIJC Associate Director of Legal Services Ashley Huebner. “With this ruling, there is a better chance that those asylum seekers will actually have the opportunity to have their cases heard by a judge.”