Stoll Berne attorney Nadia Dahab recently filed a brief on behalf of the Innovation Law Lab appearing as amicus curiae in an asylum proceeding currently pending before U.S. Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions.
Dahab coauthored the amicus brief with Stephen W. Manning, the Law Lab’s Founder and Director. The Innovation Law Lab is a nonprofit organization established to promote and improve due process in immigration proceedings.
The asylum proceeding, which is captioned Matter of A-B-, presents questions about whether victims of domestic violence are eligible for asylum protections under the U.S. immigration laws. The Attorney General, exercising his so-called “refer and review authority,” decided to reconsider the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”), which reversed an earlier immigration court decision and ordered the court to grant asylum protection to the applicant. Immigration and human rights advocacy groups believe that the Attorney General could be looking for a way to eliminate asylum protections for victims of domestic violence worldwide.
In his order notifying the parties of his intent to reconsider the BIA’s decision, the Attorney General invited amicus curiae, or “friend of the court” participation. The Innovation Law Lab’s amicus brief argues that the Attorney General, who has known connections to anti-immigrant, nativist, and white nationalist groups across the country, has deeply seated biases against immigrants—and asylum applicants in particular—such that neither he nor any member of his staff can function as an impartial decision maker in the Matter of A-B- proceeding. The Law Lab brief points to statements that the Attorney General made as recently as last week demonstrating his intent to narrow the scope of asylum protections available under federal law. Back in October, the Attorney suggested in a press release that, in his view, asylum protections should be available only to individuals suffering non-race-based harms. That view, as the Law Lab points out, contravenes federal immigration laws currently in effect. The Law Lab requests that the Attorney General, rather than exercise his refer and review authority, disqualify himself based on his white nationalist views and return the matter to the agency.