Vera Institute of Justice Applauds Restoration of Asylum Protections, Calls on President Biden to Go Further

On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland vacated two Trump-era asylum decisions known as Matter of A-B- and Matter of L-E-A-. Both decisions had, in effect, barred immigrants from claiming gender-based violence, gang brutality, and persecution against families as legitimate grounds for asylum.

Kica Matos, vice president of strategic initiatives at the Vera Institute of Justice, and acting director of its Center on Immigration and Justice, issued the following statement:

"We applaud U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland for finally ending these appalling and completely unnecessary Trump-era asylum decisions. As an institute that has helped women, children, and families navigate our complex immigration system for almost two decades, we know this reversal will save thousands of people and families from a lifetime of abuse or death.

However, if the Biden administration wants to be truly courageous and turn the page on President Trump’s xenophobic and racist immigration agenda, it should build on its reversal of these asylum decisions by rescinding its own harmful policies against asylum-seeking families.

There is no need for the administration to rush asylum cases through court or subject mostly Black and brown immigrants to mass surveillance. The government’s own data shows that people seeking asylum already appear at all their court hearings at extremely high rates. It also shows that immigrants with attorneys are 10 times more likely to establish their right to remain in the United States than immigrants who do not have legal representation.

The Vera Institute of Justice calls on President Biden to go further and finally end the mass criminalization and incarceration of immigrants by providing everyone in our immigration system with a lawyer. Given how much difference a lawyer makes in immigration court, this would not be special treatment, but essential to the operation of justice."

The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and activists working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.

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