UPDATE: Following years of hard-fought litigation and advocacy, on June 16, 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland vacated the Matter of A-B- ruling, restoring critical pathways to protection for refugee survivors of gender-based violence and gang brutality.
On June 11, 2018, former Attorney General Sessions issued a sweeping decision in the asylum case of a domestic violence survivor known as Matter of A-B-. The woman at the center of the case, Ms. A.B., sought refuge in the United States after enduring over 15 years of severe abuse at the hands of her ex-husband.
The Board of Immigration Appeals – the appellate court with nationwide jurisdiction over immigration cases – had already found Ms. A.B. eligible for asylum. But Sessions chose to invoke a rarely used power and intervene in her case personally. His June decision reversed the Board’s grant of asylum to Ms. A.B. and overturned an important legal precedent that had affirmed the right of domestic violence survivors to seek protection in the United States.
The former Attorney General’s ruling in Ms. A.B.’s case marks a shameful attempt to return the United States to an era when our country did not recognize women’s rights as human rights, and women fleeing gender-based violence and persecution were wrongfully denied refugee protection.
To learn more about asylum protection and the significance of Sessions’ ruling, see the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies’ Matter of A-B- factsheet.