Daniel Trotta, Reuters, July 29, 2019
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration imposed another obstacle for asylum-seekers on Monday, finding that being persecuted on the basis of threats against a family member is usually not enough to be granted asylum in the United States.
Attorney General William Barr issued a ruling that will set the standard for all immigration judges, using the same power his predecessors Jeff Sessions and Matthew Whitaker used to try to narrow the field of people potentially eligible for asylum.
Unlike the federal judiciary, U.S. immigration courts fall under Justice Department jurisdiction, and the attorney general can intervene in cases to set national legal precedent. Trump’s attorneys general have been more active than previous administrations in this practice. (tmsnrt.rs/2XmGDDg)
In the family ties case, known as “Matter of L-E-A,” Barr overruled a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals, finding that the board improperly ruled a Mexican was eligible for asylum protection because the threats against him came about only after a drug cartel first threatened his father.
Asylum law requires that claims be evaluated on a case-by-case basis if they can show their persecution was based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a “particular social group.”
But Barr’s decision found that virtually every asylum-seeker is a member of a family and that, “There is no evidence that Congress intended the term ‘particular social group’ to cast so wide a net.”