VICTORY!: First Circuit Rules in Favor of Asylum Seeker; CLINIC Supported With Amicus Brief

Last Updated

May 7, 2020


The Trump Administration’s assault on asylum has been characterized by the attempt to limit the number of people eligible for asylum. A prominent initiative in the administration’s attempt to dismantle asylum was former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s opinion in Matter of A-B-, 27 I&N Dec. 316 (A.G. 2018). The A-B- opinion was designed to prevent people from obtaining asylum when they suffered violence at the hands of a domestic partner.

The A-B- decision faced early criticism from a federal court in Grace v. Whitaker, 344 F. Supp. 3d 96 (D.D.C. 2018). Recently, the First Circuit joined the criticism of A-B-, holding in De Pena-Paniagua v. Barr that the government is wrong to use A-B- to categorically deny asylum claims based on domestic violence.

CLINIC filed an amicus brief in the De Pena-Paniagua case. In our brief, CLINIC explains why Attorney General Sessions’s opinion contradicts basic principles of asylum law. Taken to their logical conclusion, some of the ideas expressed in A-B- could even threaten asylum claims based on religion. Because of the threat to religious-based persecution claims, CLINIC was joined in the brief by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

First Circuit decision, available here