Asylum rules changed Wednesday when Attorney General Merrick Garland threw out two Trump-era regulations that made asylum nearly impossible for survivors of violence, according to NBC News. The now-removed regulations restricted asylum for domestic violence and gang violence survivors.

  • In the U.S., “to qualify for asylum, applicants must establish that they have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group,” explained The New York Times.

The recent asylum changes focused on what qualifies as “a particular social group,” said NPR. The repeal of these restrictions by the Biden administration marks a “significant” move away from the Trump administration, said The New York Times.

What asylum rules changed for domestic violence survivors?

The Matter of A.B. ruling — named with the initials of the migrant whose court case set a precedent — originally allowed women in violent relationships to receive asylum, said NBC News. These women experienced gender-based violence and were considered to qualify to a particular gender-based social group, said NPR.

As of Wednesday, Sessions’ decision has been revoked and courts instructed to return to the original interpretation of granting domestic violence survivors asylum on an individual basis, reported NBC News.

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What asylum rules changed for gang violence survivors?

The Matter of L.E.A. ruling — also named with the initials of the migrant whose case set a precedent — originally allowed survivors of gang violence to receive asylum. Those who experienced threats of gang violence could be considered a particular social group due to their membership in a family, said The New York Times.

  • However, in 2019, Attorney General William Barr decided that membership in a family did not qualify as a “particular social group,” said NBC News.

The recent changes revoked Barr’s decision. Immigration courts will continue considering gang violence on an individual case to evaluate if the threats of violence stemmed from social group membership, said The New York Times.

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Are these changes permanent?

Garland’s rulings will take effect immediately and potentially impact tens of thousands of immigrants, reported The New York Times.

  • Immigration courts fall under the Justice Department, not the federal court system. This allows the attorney general, the head of the department, special power to issue “certifications” on asylum regulations, reported NBC News.

The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security are currently investigating asylum process legislation at the instruction of President Joe Biden. New asylum rules and regulations will come out in the fall, said BuzzFeed.