United States Attorney General, Merrick Garland Overturns Trump Asylum Precedent Excluding Domestic Violence Survivors:
San Francisco, CA (July 26, 2021) – Today Attorney General Merrick Garland overturned a Trump-era asylum precedent that undermined protections for survivors of domestic violence and other gender-related persecution.
In 2020 then-Attorney General William Barr issued the precedent, known as Matter of A-C-A-A-, reversing a grant of asylum to a Salvadoran woman, Ms. A.A., and doubling down on the backwards notion that women and children fleeing abusive households cannot qualify for protection.
Garland’s decision to vacate Matter of A-C-A-A- follows the reversal of his predecessors’ rulings in Matter of A-B- and Matter of L-E-A- last month. With these rulings struck down, judges can no longer use Trump-era precedents to prejudge and wrongly deny asylum cases involving women, children, and families escaping violence in their homes and communities.
“I am grateful to God and those who have helped me in my immigration case that I now have the opportunity to have my asylum grant restored,” Ms. A.A. said today. “It’s been difficult these last few months not knowing what was going to happen in my case, and I am relieved to hear that the Attorney General believes in protecting women survivors of violence.”
“I am overjoyed for our client,” added Jehan Laner Romero, Co-Director of Pangea Legal Services and co-counsel in Matter of A-C-A-A-. “She no longer has to worry about being separated from her family and deported to a country where her life is in danger. We’re looking forward to having her asylum grant restored. It’s very encouraging to see Attorney General Garland taking steps to reverse Trump-era rulings that improperly deprived immigrants of their rights under the law.”
“We are thrilled for Ms. A.A. and relieved to see another unjust roadblock to asylum eliminated,” said Blaine Bookey, Legal Director at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) and co-counsel in Matter of A-C-A-A-. “Ms. A.A.’s case was one of many weaponized by the Trump administration to transform the asylum process into a rapid deportation machine. Barr’s ruling made it especially difficult for people seeking asylum to prevail on appeal. Garland’s decision today will restore some fairness to the process and make a life-saving difference for survivors of gender-based violence.”
The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are currently drafting regulations that should address how cases involving gender-based violence should be addressed in the future. We continue to urge the administration to take this opportunity to bring our asylum system into alignment with international standards and the guidance of the UN Refugee Agency, as was Congress’ intent in enacting our asylum laws, which have long recognized that people escaping gender-based violence and other persecution may qualify for asylum.
FOR EXPERT WITNESS COUNTRY CONDITIONS REPORTING for LGBTQI+ asylum seekers – from African Countries , Please contact Melanie Nathan – nathan@AfricanHRC.org