Initial Jurisdiction over UC Asylum Claims: Matter of M-A-C-O-, the Lafferty Memo, and JOP v. DHS

Immigrant Youth
Removal Defense
Publication Date

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 confers initial jurisdiction over asylum claims filed by unaccompanied children (UCs) to the asylum office. The Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision in Matter of M-A-C-O-, as well as policy changes by the Trump administration have sought to strip away this crucial protection from many child asylum seekers. Because of these changes and legal challenges by immigrant youth advocates, the current landscape of initial UC asylum jurisdiction is in flux. This practice advisory provides an overview of the current state of UC asylum jurisdiction following the Matter of M-A-C-O- decision and issuance of the Lafferty Memo. It also discusses the ongoing JOP v. DHS litigation and gives some arguments and tips for practitioners to help them advocate for their UC clients to receive the statutory protections afforded by the TVPRA. 

As a companion to the advisory, the practice alert gives a brief overview of the latest developments in the JOP litigation for practitioners who are already familiar with UC asylum jurisdiction generally. The alert includes the December 21, 2020 order amending the preliminary injunction in JOP and gives a snapshot of the current state of UC asylum jurisdiction in light of the amended injunction.