Statement of Former IJs & BIA Members in Response to Grace v. Whitaker

December 19, 2018

Today’s decision in Grace v. Whitaker provides a lesson in what it truly means to return to the rule of law.  In a 107-page decision, Judge Sullivan reminded the current administration of the following truths: that more than 30 years ago (in a decision successfully argued by our former colleague, Immigration Judge Dana Marks), our nation’s highest court recognized that the purpose of the 1980 Refugee Act was to honor our international treaty obligation towards refugees, and that the language of that treaty was meant to be interpreted flexibly, to adapt to changes over time in the agents, victims, and means of persecution, and to be applied fairly to all.  The decision affirms that our asylum laws are meant to be applied on an individual, case by case basis and not according to a predetermined categorical rule.  The decision wisely considered the interpretation of the UNHCR Handbook, and afforded it greater weight than the personal agenda of a former Attorney General in determining our legal obligations to afford protection to refugees who are victims of domestic violence.

The decision imposes a permanent injunction on DHS from applying the awful decision of the former Attorney General in Matter of A-B- in its credible fear determinations.  This reasoned decision will prevent this administration from continuing to deny women credibly fearing rape, domestic violence, beatings, shootings, and death in their countries of origin from having the right to their day in court.  We applaud Judge Sullivan’s just decision, as well as the truly heroic efforts of the lawyers at the ACLU and Center for Gender and Refugee Studies that made such outcome possible.  We also thank all of the attorneys, organizations, judges, experts, and others whose contributions lent invaluable support to this effort.

Hon. Steven Abrams

Hon. Sarah M. Burr

Hon. Teofilo Chapa

Hon. George T. Chew

Hon. Jeffrey S. Chase

Hon. Cecelia M. Espenoza

Hon. Noel A. Ferris

Hon. John F. Gossart, Jr.

Hon. Rebecca Jamil

Hon. William Joyce

Hon. Carol King

Hon. Elizabeth A. Lamb

Hon. Margaret McManus

Hon. Charles Pazar

Hon. George Proctor

Hon. John Richardson

Hon. Lory D. Rosenberg

Hon. Susan Roy

Hon. Paul W. Schmidt

Hon. Polly A. Webber

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