Attorney General Garland Vacates Trump-era Rulings Limiting Asylum Eligibility for Those Fleeing Domestic Violence or Gang Violence

June 22, 2021

On June 16, 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland vacated the previous Attorney General decisions in Matter of L-E-A-, 27 I&N Dec. 581 (A.G. 2019), Matter of A-B-, 27 I&N Dec. 316 (A.G. 2018), and Matter of A-B-, 28 I&N Dec. 199 (A.G. 2021). The previous Attorney General’s decision in Matter of L-E-A- limited the circumstances under which a family may qualify as a “particular social group,” while the decisions in Matter of A-B- limited the availability of asylum to “victims of private criminal activity,” such as domestic violence or gang violence.

Asylum status is available under U.S. and international law to those who, among other things, can show that they are fleeing persecution on account of their membership in a “particular social group.” Pursuant to President Biden’s February 2, 2021, Executive Order No. 14010, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security are now engaged in a joint rulemaking process “addressing the circumstances in which a person should be considered a member of a ‘particular social group.'” In AG Garland’s June 16, 2021 decision vacating L-E-A- and A-B-, the Attorney General explains that he is returning the law to its preexisting status pending the rulemaking process.  When the final rule is promulgated, it will govern the issue of “particular social group” going forward.

We will continue to monitor this evolving situation and will keep our website updated appropriately. Should you have any questions about your individual circumstances please do not hesitate to contact our office.


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