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Is Asylum for Victims of Domestic Violence and Gangs?

Is Domestic Violence Grounds for Asylum?

Not necessarily.

As of June 16, 2021, domestic abuse and gang violence victims have better chances of obtaining asylum thanks to a recent reversal of various Trump-era rulings. Attorney General Merrick Garland overturned several immigration rulings made during Trump’s presidency that prohibited victims of domestic or gang violence from obtaining asylum. As a result, victims of domestic abuse and gang violence can now apply for asylum. It is important to note, that just because the victims may apply for asylum, it does not mean they will be approved.

What Is Asylum?

People who come to the United States may qualify for asylum if they seek protection from persecution or fear persecution due to the following factors:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

Former AG Jeff sessions ruled in 2018 that “membership in a particular social group” does not extend to victims of domestic and gang violence. Sessions’ decision overturned a 2014 court opinion that qualified victims of domestic violence as “members of a particular social group.”

To change these restrictions against domestic and gang violence victims, current AG Merrick vacated the matters of L-E-A- II, A-B- I, and A-B- II, restoring the possibility of protection for those who need it most. Matter of L-E-A- II, for instance, limited the circumstances that qualify victims as a “particular social group,” and Matter of A-B- I found that "victims of private criminal activity,” including domestic violence or gang violence, only qualify for asylum in "exceptional circumstances."

As a result of AG Merrick’s efforts to restore asylum protections for domestic and gang violence victims, more people will have a chance of attaining safety here in the US. President Biden in February ordered the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to update asylum provisions to address the circumstances that qualify a person as a member of a 'particular social group.’

These changes have yet to be implemented, but until then, immigration judges and the Board of Immigration appeals should no longer follow L-E-A- II, A-B- I, and A-B- II when adjudicating pending or future cases and instead follow pre-A-B- I precedent, including Matter of A-R-C-G, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014).

The vacated rulings combined with President Biden’s order to rewrite asylum qualifications could help change the lives of countless asylum seekers. The recent overturning of the various Trump-era rulings is a significant step in helping domestic abuse and gang violence victims achieve protection in the US. That being said, if you or a loved one is seeking asylum in the US, our attorneys can help. When you get in touch with us, we will listen closely to your situation and provide compassionate legal counsel to help you navigate your next steps with ease. Nathan Christensen P.C. is a firm you can trust.

We welcome you to contact us at (972) 497-1017 to schedule a consultation and learn more!