The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has tightened the eligibly requirements for seeking asylum in the United States, making it more difficult for those persecuted because of family ties to be granted protection.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr ruled Monday that that those who seek asylum because of a threat against another family member usually do not have enough of a reason to be granted asylum in the United States.
Barr, as head of the Department of Justice, has the ability to set standards for all U.S. immigration judges and to overturn immigration court rulings.
U.S. law states that people can seek asylum in the United States if they can prove a fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a specific social group. Until now the term "social group" was often interpreted by immigration judges to include families.
In his ruling Monday, Barr argued that virtually all asylum-seekers are members of a family and said "there is no evidence that Congress intended the term 'particular social group' to cast so wide a net."
His decision was in regards to a case involving a Mexican man who sought asylum because his family was targeted after his father refused to let a drug cartel use the family store.
The Trump administration has taken a series of measures to restrict asylum claims, including denying asylum requests to victims of gang violence or domestic abuse. The administration has argued that the asylum system is often abused by immigrants who use fraudulent claims to try to enter the United States.
Immigration activists say the administration's latest decision reverses years of precedent and could affect thousands of people.