Attorney General William Barr has issued a ruling in Matter of L-E-A that overrules Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) precedent. In this case, Barr denied asylum relief to a Mexican national who fled the country due to cartel violence. Specifically, the asylum seeker alleged violence by a gang who were targeting his father’s store under the direction of a local cartel.
In his ruling, Barr considerably narrowed eligibility for asylum based on persecution as a result of membership in a particular social group, which in this case was a family-based group. Barr stated in the decision that membership in a family group did not constitute membership in a particular social group for asylum purposes. To qualify, the group must be socially distinct in the eyes of society, not the eyes of the persecutor.
As a result of this ruling, it appears that even if a gang threatens to torture and kill individuals or their families, it is not a basis for asylum. Even if a gang or cartel has targeted a family for violence, immigrants are ineligible for asylum based on their status as immediate family members.
Immigration law experts claim that the L-E-A decision rewrites years of immigration law precedent. Some also see the decision as a specific assault on the influx of Central American migrants. Many of these individuals have suffered violence or threats to themselves or their family members from cartels and gangs.
Federal law permits the Attorney General to overrule BIA decisions since the BIA is part of the Justice Department. This is the second time this year that Barr has overruled a BIA decision, on the heels of his predecessor, Sessions, who took the same steps during his tenure as Attorney General. All these decisions seem to have the common purpose of not only limiting asylum in general but surreptitiously limiting asylum for Central American migrants.
No matter the type of immigration issue you are facing, the skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland are here to assist you. We handle many different types of immigration cases every day and have the kind of strategic experience and skills that are necessary to reach the desired outcome. By calling our office as quickly as possible after your legal issue arises, we will have the best opportunity to resolve your immigration law case successfully.