Why Guidance from the Supreme Court is Required in Redefining the Particular Social Group Definition in Refugee Law

One of the most debated topics in refugee law has been the meaning of particular social group (PSG)—one of the five categories used to claim refugee status. In 2006, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) adopted a narrower PSG definition. Since that adoption, a circuit split has persisted over the meaning of PSG. Two circuits in particular have continually refused to adopt this definition—even when the BIA attempted to revise the definition in response to their criticism. This Note proposes a reform that would include a compromise between the two current definitions of PSG by rejecting the BIA’s particularity requirement and transforming the social distinction requirement into a flexible standard. Further, this Note advises that the Supreme Court provide guidance to the BIA to ensure that all jurisdictions adhere to the new definition.