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AG Sessions issues Matter of A-B-, restricting asylum claims based on domestic or gang violence

  1. Date Announced

    March 7, 2018

    AG Sessions vacates the BIA's decision in Matter of A-B- and overrules the BIA's decision in Matter of A-R-C-G-. Sessions largely rejects domestic and gang violence as grounds for asylum, opining that a claim based on the conduct of a private actor must show that the government condoned the conduct or was incapable of controlling it, rather than just having difficulty reining it in. Sessions also chastised the BIA for issuing a precedent where DHS had conceded relevant legal issues.

    [ID #169]

    See Biden administration action below.

    View Policy Document
  2. Effective Date of Change

    June 11, 2018
  3. Subsequent Action

    July 17, 2020

    D.C. Circuit affirms in part and reverses in part the lower court decision in Grace v. Whitaker, Case No. 1:18-cv-01853 (D.D.C.), Dec. 19, 2018, which blocked the Matter of A-B- restrictions on gender and gang-based asylum in credible fear determinations in the expedited removal context. The Circuit Court affirms that women and others fleeing domestic violence and gang brutality must have their claims considered fairly on a case-by-case basis. A government petition for rehearing en banc is pending as of 10/22/20.

    **Litigation is listed for informational purposes and is not comprehensive. For the current status of legal challenges, check other sources.**

    Grace v. Barr Opinion
  4. Biden Administration Action

    June 16, 2021

    This Biden administration action revokes in its entirety the Trump-era policy identified in this entry.

    On June 16, 2021, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta explained that "Attorney General Garland's decisions instruct that Immigration Judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals should no longer follow the vacated decisions [Matters of L-E-A-, A-B- I, and A-B- II] and should instead revert to prior precedent."

    2021.06.16 Impact of Attorney General decisions in Matter of L-E-A- and Matter of A-B-
  5. Biden Administration Action

    June 16, 2021

    This Biden administration action revokes in its entirety the Trump-era policy identified in this entry.

    On June 16, 2021, Attorney General Garland issued a new decision in Matter of A-B-, vacating Matter of A-B- I and Matter of A-B- II. "Pending forthcoming rulemaking," immigration judges are instructed to follow the precedent that governed before these decisions were issued, including the BIA's decision in Matter of A-R-C-G-.

    Matter of A-B-, 28 I&N Dec. 307 (A.G. 2021)
Type of Action: Adjudication
Agencies Affected: EOIR AG ICE USCIS

Prior Policies

  • In 2014, the BIA held in Matter of A-R-C-G- that, depending on the facts and evidence in an individual case, “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship” can constitute a cognizable particular social group for purposes of asylum and related relief.

    Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014)

Subsequent Action

Biden Administration Actions


National Immigrant Justice Center: Asylum Practice Advisory:Applying for Asylum After Matter of A-B

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Sessions Says Domestic and Gang Violence Are Not Grounds for Asylum

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ILRC |Matter of A-B- Considerations

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