Asylum and Refugee Law Board of Immigration Appeals

BIA issues new decision, Matter of H-L-S-A-, 28 I&N Dec. 228 (BIA 2021)

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The Board of Immigration Appeals published a new decision on January 28, 2021, titled Matter of H-L-S-A-, 28 I&N Dec. 228. The caption of the decision reads:

Individuals who cooperate with law enforcement may constitute a valid particular social group under the Immigration and Nationality Act if their cooperation is public in nature, particularly where testimony was given in public court proceedings, and the evidence in the record reflects that the society in question recognizes and provides protection for such cooperation.

This decision relates to asylum and withholding of removal claims, specifically for people who are members of a particular social group for prosecutorial witnesses to crimes in other countries. The BIA found that the applicant here was not part of a valid particular social group because people who do not testify in open court are not as easily identifiable. It also said that the proposed group lacked sufficient particularity and social distinction. It did, however, leave some room for individuals who cooperate with law enforcement to have a valid group so long as there is sufficiently public activity that would necessarily present a risk to their safety.