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Immigration Law Blog

Blog on immigration law information, issues and news.

Attorney General William Barr Puts Asylum Seekers at Risk

On Monday, July 29, 2019 Attorney General William Barr overturned an asylum decision that closes the door on many asylum-seekers whose claims are based on being related to a persecuted family member. Attorney General William Barr continued by stating that, “…immediate family members no longer constitute a ‘particular social group’ eligible for asylum protection in the United States.” Attorney General William Barr’s order continues to state that “most families are likely not a valid particular social group because they are not sufficiently distinct from others in society.” In order for a refugee to seek asylum in the United States they must prove that they faced persecution in their home country. This form of persecution can be based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.  Attorney General William Barr stated that, “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.” Stephen Legomsky, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis and former chief counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stated, “It’s a very dangerous practice…It should be judges and not politicians, and certainly not prosecutors, who should be deciding individual cases.”  A former immigration court judge by the name of Jeffrey Chase spoke out about his thoughts on how the Department of Justice (DOJ) is pressuring immigration judges to get through as many cases as possible stating that, “All of these things fit into the same master plan of trying to force judges into becoming this kind of assembly line for issuing deportation orders.” Asylum-seekers are not just another number in the DOJ’s case load, they are people who deserve to have their case heard. 

Mercedes Riggs