AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AG Garland Vacates Asylum Precedents That Harmed Victims of Violence

6/16/21 AILA Doc. No. 21061648. Asylum
George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Attorney General Merrick Garland vacated two precedent decisions, Matter of A-B- and Matter of L-E-A-, both of which were issued by Attorneys General under Trump administration and had arbitrarily overturned years of established case law. By vacating these two decisions, the AG has restored access to asylum for many people fleeing persecution abroad, protections that had been gutted by the Trump administration.

AILA President-Elect Jeremy McKinney stated, “This was the right decision by the Attorney General and one which helps victims of extreme violence. Today also hits home as it favorably impacts the ability of the asylum seekers I represent to remain safe. By reinforcing what was once settled law—that domestic & gang violence can fall within the ambit of asylum law, the Biden Administration is sending a powerful message that America is once again a refuge for those fleeing persecution and in need of humanitarian protection. These were two of many decisions the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice used to undermine and politicize the asylum process. We welcome this news and urge AG Garland to vacate other decisions which make it impossible for individuals to have a fair day in court.”

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson added, “When someone’s own country cannot or will not keep them safe from persecution, American laws declare forcefully that we will protect them. With these decisions today, we are heading back in the right direction, aligning again with the fundamental values upon which our country was built. However, the fact that the Trump Administration was able to manipulate access to asylum in the manner it did, and that it took significant time and resources simply to revert to prior caselaw, shows why the immigration courts cannot remain under the control of the DOJ whose influence inherently weakens the courts’ ability to stand against politicized changes. An independent immigration judiciary would be far better suited to ensuring justice in these life and death cases.”

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.