Recently, a federal judge in Washington D.C., Emmet Sullivan, struck down the June 2018 decision from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Matter of A-B-, which restricted asylum protections for immigrants fleeing domestic violence and gang brutality.
The asylum applicant in Matter of A-B- claimed eligibility for asylum based on her membership in the particular social group of “El Salvadoran women who are unable to leave their domestic relationships where they have children in common” with their partners. In the decision, the former Attorney General reversed the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) grant of asylum to the applicant, and overruled the precedential decision of Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014), upon which the BIA relied to grant the case. Although the underlying legal framework for asylum eligibility remained in place, this decision created numerous hurdles for victims of domestic violence and others who have faced persecution by private actors. Furthermore, for unrepresented asylum applicants, the June 2018 decision presented an almost unsurmountable barrier.