Attorney General William Barr on Monday restricted migrants from seeking asylum based on their familial connection to people under threat in their home countries.
His decision overturned an earlier precedent-setting decision made by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Previously, a migrant could ask for protection in the United States if a family member faced threats in their home country and being related to that person also put the asylum-seeker at risk.
U.S. law says the government can grant asylum if a person is unable to return to their native country because they have or expect to face persecution because of “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” Barr said family connections don’t constitute “membership in a particular social group.”
Barr’s decision stemmed from a case in which a Mexican national who illegally crossed the border in 2011 asked for asylum because his father “owned a store targeted by a local drug cartel,” CNN reported.
The case, the Matter of L-E-A, now goes back to immigration court for further review.
The asylum-seeker was represented by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, which said it intends to press its client’s case.
“We will continue to fight for Mr. L-E-A in his quest to live a life free from fear of harm,” the organization said. “We are confident that the federal courts of appeal will overturn the attorney general’s misguided and legally erroneous decision.”
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