Immigration Law

Post-Matter of A-B- Victories

Immigration Courtside, Jan. 17, 2019

The Hon. Paul W. Schmidt writes:

"Here are two redacted “post-Matter of A-B-” decisions from U.S.Immigration Judges correctly interpreting the law to grant relief to refugee women from Central America who have been victims of gender-based persecution in the form of domestic violence.

Assistant Chief U.S. Immigration Judge Deepali Nadkarni of the Arlington Immigration Court granted this case based on a PSG of “women in Honduras.”

Nadkarni Grant – Women in Honduras PSG

And U.S. Immigration Judge Miriam Hayward of the San Francisco Immigration Court granted this case based on a PSG of “women in Mexico:”

SF IJ Hayward DV PSG grant

Compare the outstanding organization, methodical scholarly analysis, proper use of country conditions, and logical conclusions of these decisions written by fair and impartial judges with the pages of legal gobbledygook and anti-asylum screed set forth by xenophobic politico Jeff Sessions in Matter of A-B-, 17 I&N Dec. 316 (BIA 2018).

In a properly functioning system, decisions like these would be the published precedents, not the misleading, inaccurate, and confusing decision of the Attorney General which has already been firmly rejected by U.S District Judge Sullivan in Grace v. Whitaker. Decisions like these two, if used as models, could actually help speed along the grant process in both the Asylum Office and the Immigration Courts, thus expediting justice without sacrificing Due Process.

As it is, these decisions should be helpful to counsel presenting cases of abused women in Immigration Court.

Assistant Chief Judge Nadkarni and Judge Hayward show what the U.S. Immigration Court system could be if the improper political meddling and enforcement bias were removed and the Immigration Court were allowed to operate independently. Unfortunately, there are some Immigration Judges out there who are intent not on judicial excellence, but on using Matter of A-B- to railroad refugees through the system into the “deportation mill” without Due Process. That’s why we need a diverse and independent appellate body that can reinforce “best practices” while keeping those judges who aren’t fairly and correctly applying asylum law in line and, perhaps, encouraging them to find other careers.

Congratulations to both Assistant Chief Judge Nadkarni and Judge Hayward for having the courage to stand tall for the rule of law, Due Process, and fundamental fairness for the most vulnerable in our society — the actual (if now largely discarded) mission of the U.S. Immigration Courts. I should know, since I helped draft that now-forgotten “vision statement.”

Also, many congrats to counsel Mark Stevens (who appeared before me many times in Arlington) and Kelly Engel Wells for their outstanding work and to the unnamed but still critically important ICE Assistant Chief Counsel who appear to have done an outstanding job of presenting these cases.

NOTE: Judge Miriam Hayward recently retired and has joined “Our Gang” now numbering at least 32 retired U.S. Immigration Judges and Appellate Immigration Judges."