Two Legal Decisions Help Some Asylum Seekers Fleeing Domestic Violence and Gang Violence

Last updated on June 29, 2021

Good news: Two new legal decisions on June 16, 2021, will make it easier to win asylum for people fleeing domestic violence, gang violence, and persecution because of who their family members are. The new decisions reverse earlier decisions from the Trump administration called “Matter of A-B-” and “Matter of L-E-A-”.

How do these decisions affect asylum seekers? 

In general, the decisions mean that the U.S. government believes you can win asylum if you are fleeing gang violence, domestic violence, or are scared of being hurt because of who your family members are. Asylum seekers with these kinds of cases still have to show that they meet all the other requirements for asylum to win their cases. But they now have a better chance of winning their case than before.

What if I have a hearing with an immigration judge or an interview with an asylum officer in the future?

The immigration judge or asylum officer must use the new decisions when considering your case.

What if I lost my case in immigration court because of the Trump decisions?

If you lost your case before an immigration judge, you can try to ask that the immigration judge reconsider your case. The next step depends on the status of your case.

  • If you are appealing your case to the Board of Immigration Appeals (an immigration appeal court, also known as the BIA), you have the right to ask the BIA to send your case back to the immigration judge. The immigration judge should then re-decide your case based on the new laws.
  • If you lost your case at the BIA and are appealing your case to a federal appeals court, you have the right to ask the federal appeals court to send your case back to the BIA. The BIA will decide your case based on the new laws.
  • If you did not appeal your case to the BIA (or you lost your appeal to the BIA and did not  appeal to a federal court), you can try asking for your case to be reconsidered in light of the new decisions. This is a complicated process, so talking with a lawyer is helpful. It is important to do this quickly, because there may be time limits for getting your case reconsidered.

This video explains more about appeals in general.

What if I lost my case at the asylum office because of the Trump decisions? 

If you got a “Notice of Intent to Deny” from the asylum office, you can write back to explain that the Trump decisions should no longer affect your case.

If you received a final denial from the asylum office or had your case transferred to the immigration court by the asylum office, you can submit a “Motion to Reopen” (a request to have the case looked at again) to the asylum office. Talking with a lawyer may be helpful. It is important to do this step quickly, because usually there is a 30-day deadline.


If you have questions about your specific case, it is best to speak with a lawyer. Find out how to seek legal assistance here. Read more about the decisions here.

Note: This information is for asylum seekers and does not substitute for legal advice from a lawyer.