Asylum Eligibility for Applicants Fleeing Gang and Domestic Violence: Recent Developments [Updated August 6, 2021] [open pdf - 731KB]
"Non-U.S. nationals (aliens, as the term is used in the Immigration and Nationality Act [hyperlink]) from Central America have increasingly pursued asylum and related protections in the United States because of gang and domestic violence [hyperlink] in their home countries. To qualify for protection, applicants typically must establish that the gang or domestic violence amounts to persecution because of one of five enumerated grounds, including membership in a 'particular social group.' In 'Matter of A-B-' [hyperlink] and 'Matter of L-E-A-' [hyperlink], former Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and William Barr issued rulings that made it more difficult for applicants to satisfy this requirement. Those rulings were binding upon immigration authorities [hyperlink] within both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In February 2021, President Biden directed [hyperlink] the Attorney General (AG) and the Secretary of Homeland Security to review the availability of asylum for applicants fleeing gang or domestic violence, and to issue joint regulations that clarify the meaning of a 'particular social group.' In June 2021, AG Merrick Garland vacated the prior rulings [hyperlink] in 'Matter of A-B-' and 'Matter of L-E-A-' pending issuance of these regulations. This Legal Sidebar examines the AG decisions addressing the availability of asylum for applicants fearing nongovernmental persecution based on their membership in a particular social group, President Biden's executive order, and legislative options for Congress."
CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10617
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/