Attorney General Merrick Garland moved Wednesday to undo a pair of immigration decisions by Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr. The opinions by Garland's predecessors put limits on who could qualify for asylum by claiming to be a persecuted member of a "particular social group," the Hill reports, and also affected domestic violence victims. Garland said immigration judges should no longer adhere to the old rules, per the AP. "Merrick Garland is restoring asylum protections to people who are victims of domestic abuse and gang persecution," said a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Advocacy groups had called for all 17 attorney general-level immigration court decisions made during former President Trump's administration to be reviewed.
A Human Rights First official said Garland's moves could help the cases of those, especially in Central America, who are threatened by gangs. "Say they want your brother or your father but they can't get that person," she said. "They were the target, but brother or dad has since fled. They want to get them back in the country or out of hiding, so you end up being targeted." Garland said President Biden had directed the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to decide on rules for who should qualify for humanitarian protection, based on membership in a social group. The lawyers group said Garland's decisions are important to these cases, but also "symbolically in that the administration is looking carefully at the US commitment to humanitarian law and protecting those in flight from danger." (Read more asylum stories.)