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Grace v. Whitaker

United States District Court for the District of Columbia

December 17, 2018, Decided; December 19, 2018, Filed

No. 18-cv-01853 (EGS)



When Congress passed the Refugee Act in 1980, it made its intentions clear: the purpose was to enforce the "historic policy of the United States to respond to the urgent needs of persons subject to persecution in their homelands." Refugee Act of 1980, § 101(a), Pub. L. No. 96-212, 94 Stat. 102 (1980). Years later, Congress amended the immigration laws to provide for expedited removal of those seeking admission to the United States. Under the expedited removal process, an alien could be summarily removed after a preliminary inspection by an immigration officer, so long as the alien did not have a credible fear of [**3]  persecution by his or her country of origin. In creating this framework, Congress struck a balance between an efficient immigration system and ensuring that "there should be no danger that an alien with a genuine asylum claim will be returned to persecution." H.R. Rep. No. 104-469, pt. 1, at 158 (1996).

Seeking an opportunity for asylum, plaintiffs, twelve adults and children, alleged accounts of sexual abuse, kidnappings, and beatings in their home countries during interviews with asylum officers.2  [*105]  These interviews were designed to evaluate whether plaintiffs had a credible fear of persecution by their respective home countries. ] A credible fear of persecution is defined as a "significant possibility" that the alien "could establish eligibility for asylum." 8 U.S.C. § 1225(b)(1)(B)(v). Although the asylum officers found that plaintiffs' accounts were sincere, the officers denied their claims after applying the standards set forth in a recent precedential immigration decision issued by then-Attorney General, Jefferson B. Sessions, Matter of A-B-, 27 I. & N. Dec. 316 (A.G. 2018).

Plaintiffs bring this action against the Attorney General alleging violations of, inter alia, the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA") and the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), arguing that the standards [**4]  articulated in Matter of A-B-, and a subsequent Policy Memorandum issued by the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") (collectively "credible fear policies"), unlawfully and arbitrarily imposed a heightened standard to their credible fear determinations.

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344 F. Supp. 3d 96 *; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 213105 **; 2018 WL 6628081

GRACE, et al., Plaintiffs, v. MATTHEW G. WHITAKER,1 Acting Attorney General of the United States, et al., Defendants.

Prior History: Grace v. Sessions, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137436 (D.D.C., Aug. 9, 2018)


credible, asylum, persecution, alien, policies, plaintiffs', social group, attorney general, determinations, Refugee, deference, interview, removal, directive, expedited, argues, immigration law, cases, immigration judge, membership, judicial review, agency's interpretation, general rule, gang, domestic violence, condoned, declarations, challenges, injunction, violates

Immigration Law, Deportation & Removal, Expedited Removal, Asylum, Refugees & Related Relief, Asylum, Eligibility for Asylum, Refugee Status, Eligibility for Refugee Status, Judicial Proceedings, Judicial Review, Discretionary Actions, Jurisdiction, Enforcement of Immigration Laws, Administrative Law, Administrative Record, Reviewability, Reviewable Agency Action, Civil Procedure, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Over Actions, Limited Jurisdiction, Agency Rulemaking, Agency Adjudication, Decisions, Stare Decisis, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Justiciability, Standing, Injury in Fact, Preliminary Considerations, Standing, Questions of Law, Judgments, Summary Judgment, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Arbitrary & Capricious Standard of Review, Deference to Agency Statutory Interpretation, Standards of Review, International Law, Individuals & Sovereign States, Asylum, Rule Interpretation, Remedies, Unlawful Procedures, Remedies, Injunctions, Grounds for Injunctions