Attorney General William Barr has ruled that having family members targeted by a cartel does not justify applying for asylum in the United States.
What’s the background?
This particular case focused on a man who had crossed into the United States illegally in 1998, and then again in 2011 at which time he applied for asylum. This man had argued that he should be allowed to stay in the U.S. because his father owned a shop that had been targeted by a Mexican drug cartel who wanted to sell their drugs in that shop.
His father had refused to comply, the man argued, which had led the cartel to retaliate against his family. He said that the cartel had tried to kidnap him in order to force his father to sell their drugs.
The Board of Immigration Appeals had ruled that this man was eligible for asylum. This decision was based on existing law that states asylum-seekers must prove that they cannot return to their country of origin due to having “suffered past persecution or has a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of ‘race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.’ “
What did Barr say?
On Monday, Barr overturned the Board of Immigration Appeals’s decision in this case.
Barr said that the appeals board “improperly recognized” that the man’s family qualified as a “particular social group.”
“The fact that a criminal group — such as a drug cartel, gang, or guerrilla force — targets a group of people does not, standing alone, transform those people into a particular social group,” he argued.
He said that “an alien’s family based group will not constitute a particular social group unless it has been shown to be socially distinct in the eyes of its society, not just those of its alleged persecutor.” Barr concluded that the board had not proven this in its decision.
In addition to overturning this man’s case, Barr’s decision could have far reaching consequences and potentially remove the legal case for many other asylum claims.