Our Work » Litigation » Grace v. Barr

Grace v. Barr

Help Defend Asylum

CGRS relies on the generous support of people like you to sustain our advocacy defending the human rights of refugees. Make a gift today!


Case Status: 
Issue Area: 

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No.1:18-cv-01853-EGS
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, No. 19-5013

What is the government doing and why are we challenging it? 

In Matter of A-B-, the Attorney General wrote that “generally” domestic violence cases should not be approved and made other pronouncements about asylum law intended to restrict all claims involving non-state persecutors. Immediately after his decision, the government issued guidance instructing officials at the border that since such claims should generally not be considered valid, asylum seekers going through the credible fear interview process as part of expedited removal should be denied. This meant that these asylum seekers were promptly removed from the United States and were never able even to present their asylum claim to an immigration judge.

In August 2018, we challenged the government’s guidance implementing Matter of A-B- in expedited removal.  A credible fear interview is intended to be a generous initial screening using a lower standard, designed by Congress to ensure that anyone who might have a claim for asylum is able to present it to an immigration judge.

Whose life is at stake? 

Our clients are 12 asylum seekers who were found not to have a credible fear of persecution and would have been removed promptly, without a chance to tell their full stories to an immigration judge, without the district court’s action. One of them, “Grace,” is an indigenous Guatemalan woman who has survived decades of extreme domestic violence. Grace’s abuser has two sons from another relationship who are members of a criminal gang with a network across Guatemala; they also abused Grace. Not only did the police fail to help Grace when she sought their protection, they actually helped her abuser evict her from her own home. Even though Grace was found to be credible, she received a negative credible fear determination and was slated for immediate deportation.

What’s the status of this case? 

In December 2018, the District Court for the District of Columbia issued a permanent nationwide injunction against the use of Matter of A-B- and the accompanying guidance in credible fear interviews.

On July 17, 2020, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld key aspects of the lower court's injunction, affirming that survivors seeking refuge at the border must be provided a fair opportunity to present their asylum claims.

Who’s involved? 

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies is counsel along with the American Civil Liberties Union. Several organizations and individuals filed amicus briefs in this case including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Congressional Accountability Center, administrative law professors, immigration law professors, and the Tahirih Justice Center.  

How can you help? 

  • Sign our petition urging the government to stop turning back domestic violence survivors and all other asylum seekers at the border.
  • Learn more about how you can support the struggle to restore protections for survivors of domestic violence at ImmigrantWomenToo.org.
  • You can support CGRS’s vital work on cases like this one by making a donation.

Need more information? 

Contact Brianna Krong, Communications and Advocacy Manager, at krongbrianna@uclawsf.edu.

Resources for Advocates