- The Washington Times - Monday, July 29, 2019

Being part of a family that’s harassed by a gang isn’t enough on its own to qualify for asylum, Attorney General William P. Barr ruled Monday, in the latest effort by the administration to put a cap on the expanding universe of asylum claims.

Mr. Barr overturned a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals, which had ruled that being part of a targeted family could qualify as a distinct social group, which is a key element of valid asylum claims.

In his new decision, Mr. Barr said that was far too broad a claim.

He said there are situations where being part of a prominent family could satisfy the law, but it can’t be automatic.

“If this were the case, virtually everyone in that society would be a member of a cognizable particular social group,” he wrote.

To get asylum, claimants must prove they are part of a targeted social group, and it’s because of membership in that group that they face persecution sponsored by a government, or to which the government is so indifferent that it’s essentially the same.

The case before Mr. Barr involved a Mexican man who said his father’s store was harassed by a local cartel that wanted to sell drugs there. The man said he himself was then targeted by the cartel, including a failed drive-by shooting and a failed kidnapping attempt.

The man, identified in the case by initial L.E.A., said it was his membership in his family that made him a target.

The Board of Immigration Appeals had ruled that the man’s family was a recognizable social group — though it ultimately denied the asylum claim, saying it may have been the man’s work at the store, rather than his relationship as son of the owner, that made him a target.

Mr. Barr overturned the first part of the ruling.

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