As the Biden administration continues its work to address the fallout from the chaos of the Trump administration, Attorney General Merrick Garland has now undone two Trump era decisions that enacted hurdles for certain individuals seeking asylum in the United States.
The moves by the Trump administration that Garland has now set aside included impediments to claiming asylum both for individuals who are victims of domestic violence and for people with family members who have been targeted by gangs. In other words, victims of those particular forms of violence have now had protections re-established by the Biden Justice Department. Clearly, individuals from both groups could warrant protections in the United States according to norms surrounding asylum, but the Trump administration repeatedly sought to punitively restrict access to the country.
Greg Chen, who is associated with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, commented as follows:
‘By rescinding these opinions from the Trump-era attorneys general, Merrick Garland is restoring asylum protections to people who are victims of domestic abuse and gang persecution where we have seen increasing numbers request protection here in the United States in recent years… This is such a critical step, both in practice to protect these people, but also symbolically in that the administration is looking carefully at the U.S. commitment to humanitarian law and protecting those in flight from danger.’
Garland himself has stated that a decision by Trump era Attorney General Bill Barr to block the granting of asylum to individuals with family members targeted by violence was “inconsistent with the decisions of several courts of appeals that have recognized families as particular social groups.” Under U.S. law, individuals can seek asylum based on dangers connected to their membership in a so-called “particular social group,” and Garland was saying that being a part of a certain family fits the bill. On a similar note, Garland also said that a decision by Trump era Attorney General Jeff Sessions that restricted domestic violence victims from receiving asylum “threatens to create confusion and discourage careful case-by-case adjudication of asylum claims.”