Statement in response to Matter of A-B-

The following is a statement released by our group of former Immigration Judges and BIA Board Members in response to the AG's decision in Matter of A-B-:

 Retired Immigration Judges and Former Members of the Board of Immigration Appeals Statement in Response to Attorney General’s Decision in Matter of A-B- 

June 11, 2018

As former Immigration Judges with decades of experience at the trial and appellate level, we consider the Attorney General’s decision an affront to the rule of law. As former judges, we understand that in order to be fair, case law must develop through a process of impartial judicial analysis applying statute, regulations, case law, and other proper sources to the facts of the case. The life-or-death consequences facing asylum applicants makes it extremely important to keep such analysis immune from the political considerations that appointed cabinet members are subject to. 

The BIA’s acknowledgment that a victim of domestic violence may qualify for asylum as a member of a particular social group was the culmination of a 15 year process through the immigration courts and BIA. The issue was certified by three different Attorneys General (one Democrat and two Republican), who all chose in the end to leave the final determination to the immigration judges and the BIA. The private bar, law enforcement agencies (including DHS), the BIA, and the circuit courts all agreed with this final determination. What is more, a person who suffers persecution that is perpetrated by private parties whom their government cannot or will not control, is equally eligible for asylum protection under both US law and international refugee treaties. 

For reasons understood only by himself, the Attorney General today erased an important legal development that was universally agreed to be correct. Today we are deeply disappointed that our country will no longer offer legal protection to women seeking refuge from terrible forms of domestic violence from which their home countries are unable or unwilling to protect them. We hope that appellate courts or Congress through legislation will reverse this unilateral action and return the rule of law to asylum adjudications. 


Honorable Steven R. Abrams

Honorable Sarah M. Burr

Honorable Jeffrey S. Chase

Honorable Bruce J. Einhorn

Honorable Cecelia Espenoza

Honorable Noel Ferris

Honorable John F. Gossart, Jr. 

Honorable William P. Joyce

Honorable Carol King

Honorable Elizabeth A. Lamb

Honorable Margaret McManus

Honorable Susan Roy

Honorable Lory D. Rosenberg

Honorable Paul W. Schmidt

Honorable Polly A. Webber


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List of Retired Immigration Judges and Former BIA Members

The Honorable Steven R. Abrams served as an Immigration Judge in New York City from 1997 to 2013 at JFK Airport, Varick Street, and 26 Federal Plaza. From 1979 to 1997, he worked for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service in various capacities, including a general attorney; district counsel; a Special U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York and Alaska. Presently lectures on Immigration law in Raleigh, NC. 

The Honorable Sarah M. Burr served as a U.S. Immigration Judge in New York from 1994 and was appointed as Assistant Chief Immigration Judge in charge of the New York, Fishkill, Ulster, Bedford Hills and Varick Street immigration courts in 2006. She served in this capacity until January 2011, when she returned to the bench full-time until she retired in 2012. Prior to her appointment, she worked as a staff attorney for the Criminal Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society in its trial and appeals bureaus and also as the supervising attorney in its immigration unit. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Immigrant Justice Corps. 

The Honorable Jeffrey S. Chase served as an Immigration Judge in New York City from 1995 to 2007 and was an attorney advisor and senior legal advisor at the Board from 2007 to 2017. He is presently in private practice as an independent consultant on immigration law, and is of counsel to the law firm of DiRaimondo & Masi in New York City. Prior to his appointment, he was a sole practitioner and volunteer staff attorney at Human Rights First. He also was the recipient of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s annual pro bono award in 1994 and chaired AILA’s Asylum Reform Task Force. 

The Honorable Bruce J. Einhorn served as a United States Immigration Judge in Los Angeles from 1990 to 2007. He now serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California, and a Visiting Professor of International, Immigration, and Refugee Law at the University of Oxford, England. He is also a contributing op-ed columnist at D.C.-based The Hill newspaper. He is a member of the Bars of Washington D.C., New York, Pennsylvania, and the Supreme Court of the United States. 

The Honorable Cecelia M. Espenoza served as a Member of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) Board of Immigration Appeals from 2000-2003 and in the Office of the General Counsel from 2003-2017 where she served as Senior Associate General Counsel, Privacy Officer, Records Officer and Senior FOIA Counsel. She is presently in private practice as an independent consultant on immigration law, and a member of the World Bank’s Access to Information Appeals Board. Prior to her EOIR appointments, she was a law professor at St. Mary’s University (1997-2000) and the University of Denver College of Law (1990-1997) where she taught Immigration Law and Crimes and supervised students in the Immigration and Criminal Law Clinics. She has published several articles on Immigration Law. She is a graduate of the University of Utah and the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. She was recognized as the University of Utah Law School’s Alumna of the Year in 2014 and received the Outstanding Service Award from the Colorado Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association in 1997 and the Distinguished Lawyer in Public Service Award from the Utah State Bar in 1989-1990. 

The Honorable Noel Ferris served as an Immigration Judge in New York from 1994 to 2013 and an attorney advisor to the Board from 2013 to 2016, until her retirement. Previously, she served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1985 to 1990 and as Chief of the Immigration Unit from 1987 to 1990. 

The Honorable John F. Gossart, Jr. served as a U.S. Immigration Judge from 1982 until his retirement in 2013 and is the former president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. At the time of his retirement, he was the third most senior immigration judge in the United States. Judge Gossart was awarded the Attorney General Medal by then Attorney General Eric Holder. From 1975 to 1982, he served in various positions with the former Immigration Naturalization Service, including as general attorney, naturalization attorney, trial attorney, and deputy assistant commissioner for naturalization. He is also the co-author of the National Immigration Court Practice Manual, which is used by all practitioners throughout the United States in 

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immigration court proceedings. From 1997 to 2016, Judge Gossart was an adjunct professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law teaching immigration law, and more recently was an adjunct professor of law at the University of Maryland School of Law also teaching immigration law. He has been a faculty member of the National Judicial College, and has guest lectured at numerous law schools, the Judicial Institute of Maryland and the former Maryland Institute for the Continuing Education of Lawyers. He is also a past board member of the Immigration Law Section of the Federal Bar Association. Judge Gossart served in the United States Army from 1967 to 1969 and is a veteran of the Vietnam War. 

The Honorable William P. Joyce served as an Immigration Judge in Boston, Massachusetts. Subsequent to retiring from the bench, he has been the Managing Partner of Joyce and Associates with 1,500 active immigration cases. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he served as legal counsel to the Chief Immigration Judge. Judge Joyce also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Associate General Counsel for enforcement for INS. He is a graduate of Georgetown School of Foreign Service and Georgetown Law School. 

The Honorable Carol King served as an Immigration Judge from 1995 to 2017 in San Francisco and was a temporary Board member for six months between 2010 and 2011. She previously practiced immigration law for ten years, both with the Law Offices of Marc Van Der Hout and in her own private practice. She also taught immigration law for five years at Golden Gate University School of Law and is currently on the faculty of the Stanford University Law School Trial Advocacy Program. Judge King now works as a Removal Defense Strategist, advising attorneys and assisting with research and writing related to complex removal defense issues. 

The Honorable Elizabeth A. Lamb was appointed as an Immigration Judge in September 1995. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Mt. St. Vincent in 1968, and a Juris Doctorate in 1975 from St. John's University. From 1983 to 1995, she was in private practice in New York. Judge Lamb also served as an adjunct professor at Manhattan Community College from 1990 to 1992. From 1987 to 1995, Judge Lamb served as an attorney for the Archdiocese of New York as an immigration consultant. From 1980 to 1983, she worked as senior equal employment attorney for the St. Regis Paper Company in West Mark, New York. From 1978 to 1980, Judge Lamb served as a lawyer for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services in New York. She is a member of the New York Bar. 

Judge Margaret McManus was appointed as an Immigration Judge in 1991 and retired from the bench after twenty-seven years in January 2018. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Catholic University of America in 1973, and a Juris Doctorate from Brooklyn Law School in 1983. Judge McManus was an attorney for Marion Ginsberg, Esquire from 1989 to 1990 in New York. She was in private practice in 1987 and 1990, also in New York. Judge McManus worked as a consultant to various nonprofit organizations on immigration matters including Catholic Charities and Volunteers of Legal Services from 1987 to 1988 in New York. She was an adjunct clinical law professor for City University of New York Law School from 1988 to 1989. Judge McManus served as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society, Immigration Unit, in New York, from 1983 to 1987. She is a member of the New York Bar. 

The Honorable Lory D. Rosenberg served on the Board from 1995 to 2002. She then served as Director of the Defending Immigrants Partnership of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association from 2002 until 2004. Prior to her appointment, she worked with the American Immigration Law Foundation from 1991 to 1995. She was also an adjunct Immigration Professor at American University Washington College of Law from 1997 to 2004. She is the founder of IDEAS Consulting and Coaching, LLC., a consulting service for immigration lawyers, and is the author of Immigration Law and Crimes. She currently works as Senior Advisor for the Immigrant Defenders Law Group. 

The Honorable Susan Roy started her legal career as a Staff Attorney at the Board of Immigration Appeals, a position she received through the Attorney General Honors Program. She served as Assistant Chief Counsel, National Security Attorney, and Senior Attorney for the DHS Office of Chief Counsel in Newark, NJ, and then became an Immigration Judge, also in Newark. Sue has been in private practice for nearly 5 years, and two years ago, opened her own immigration law firm. Sue is the NJ AILA Chapter Liaison to EOIR, is the Vice Chair of 

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the Immigration Law Section of the NJ State Bar Association, and in 2016 was awarded the Outstanding Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by the NJ Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. 

The Honorable Paul W. Schmidt served as an Immigration Judge from 2003 to 2016 in Arlington, virginia. He previously served as Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals from 1995 to 2001, and as a Board Member from 2001 to 2003. He authored the landmark decision Matter of Kasinga, 21 I&N Dec. 357 (BIA 1995) extending asylum protection to victims of female genital mutilation. He served as Deputy General Counsel of the former INS from 1978 to 1987, serving as Acting General Counsel from 1986-87 and 1979-81. He was the managing partner of the Washington, D.C. office of Fragomen, Del Rey & Bernsen from 1993 to 1995, and practiced business immigration law with the Washington, D.C. office of Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue from 1987 to 1992, where he was a partner from 1990 to 1992. He served as an adjunct professor of law at George Mason University School of Law in 1989, and at Georgetown University Law Center from 2012 to 2014 and 2017 to present. He was a founding member of the International Association of Refugee Law Judges (IARLJ), which he presently serves as Americas Vice President. He also serves on the Advisory Board of AYUDA, and assists the National Immigrant Justice Center/Heartland Alliance on various projects; and speaks, writes and lectures at various forums throughout the country on immigration law topics. He also created the immigration law blog 

The Honorable Polly A. Webber served as an Immigration Judge from 1995 to 2016 in San Francisco, with details in Tacoma, Port Isabel, Boise, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Orlando Immigration Courts. Previously, she practiced immigration law from 1980 to 1995 in her own private practice in San Jose, California, initially in partnership with the Honorable Member of Congress, Zoe Lofgren. She served as National President of AILA from 1989 to 1990 and was a national officer in AILA from 1985 to 1991. She has also taught Immigration and Nationality Law for five years at Santa Clara University School of Law. She has spoken at seminars and has published extensively in this field, and is a graduate of Hastings College of the Law (University of California), J.D., and the University of California, Berkeley, A.B., Abstract Mathematics. 

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Women Need Not Apply

Punishing the Victims: Matter of A-C-M-