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WASHINGTON, DC, July 30, 2019 — On July 29, 2019, Attorney General (AG) William Barr issued a precedent decision in Matter of L-E-A- and announced that in his view, families cannot be considered a particular social group (and thus grounds for asylum) unless they are recognized by society as such.

AILA Second Vice President Jeremy McKinney stated, “Matter of L-E-A- is a poorly-reasoned decision from an Administration that seems intent on ending legal asylum. AG Barr’s decision ignores decades of circuit court case law which has concluded that families are the ‘prototypical’ or ‘quintessential’ particular social group to qualify for asylum. Courts, like the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, have voluminous case law directly contradicting the Attorney General’s decision today.

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“The impact of AG Barr’s decision, along with the other decisions issued by his immediate predecessors on asylum and the nation’s immigration courts, cannot be overstated. Last summer, the AG issued Matter of A-B- attempting to end the category of persecution – essentially restricting domestic violence victims and other victims of crimes perpetrated by private, non-government actors from their ability to qualify for asylum. Today, the AG’s office further attempts to restrict asylum by targeting a new category of asylum seekers: families. This will cause irreparable harm. We know that these are some of the most vulnerable of asylum seekers as parents flee with their children in order to protect them from persecution. This decision unnecessarily makes asylum harder. Clearly, our nation needs an independent immigration court system separate from the Department of Justice.”

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is the national association of more than 15,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law. www.AILA.org