August 2, 2019
ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL FILES BRIEF SUPPORTING PROTECTIONS FOR ASYLUM-SEEKERS
Raoul, 20 Attorneys General Argue Changes to Asylum Standards Violate Federal Law and Judicial Precedent
Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a group of 21 state attorneys general, today filed an amicus brief challenging the federal government’s changes to asylum standards. If implemented, the changes would allow the executive branch to arbitrarily deny asylum claims to immigrants seeking haven from domestic or gang violence.
Raoul and the coalition filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit supporting the plaintiffs in Grace v. Barr. In the brief, Raoul and the attorneys general argue that the stringent revisions implemented in 2018 – which would effectively bar asylum claims based on domestic or gang-related violence – contradict longstanding federal law and judicial precedent, and undermine the rule of law.
“The federal government’s revised asylum standards violate federal law. But more importantly the new standards deny safety to individuals and families who are quite literally fleeing from violence in their home countries to save their lives,” Raoul said. “I will continue to join my fellow attorneys general to fight this administration’s cruel, arbitrary anti-immigrant policies.”
The lawsuit was initially filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, the ACLU of Texas, and the ACLU of D.C., in response to a policy former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in his June 2018 decision in Matter of A-B-. In Matter of A-B-, Sessions overturned the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) decision to grant a Salvadoran woman asylum based on her claim of spousal abuse. In his ruling, Sessions broke sharply from existing precedent to argue that the BIA should reject asylum claims based on domestic violence or gang violence. Shortly after, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued guidelines for implementing this policy, emphasizing its denial of such claims.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down the change in December 2018, ruling it is incompatible with existing law. The Department of Justice is now appealing the ruling.
In the brief, the states collectively argue that the district court’s decision to reject the administration’s heightened standards should be upheld, on the basis that:
Joining Raoul in filing the amicus brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.