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NIJC and 150+ Organizations Call for Rescission of Trump's Asylum Ban

On November 9, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security published a notice in the Federal Register that has become widely known as the “Asylum Ban.” In combination with a Presidential Proclamation issued the same day, the proposed rule intends to shut off asylum protections for those seeking entry to the United States outside regular processing at ports of entry. The Rule was published as the administration’s abusive practices on the border intensified, with border officials refusing entry to thousands of asylum seekers stranded in dangerous conditions in Mexico, left with no other choice but to attempt to cross between ports. Invoking exceptional circumstances that simply do not exist, the government published the notice as a so-called “Interim Final Rule,” meaning that the Rule became effective immediately and without the opportunity for meaningful public comment usually required by federal law.

The Rule is illegal and unethical. It is one more reminder of the Trump administration’s hostility toward refugees and asylum seekers. Despite the Rule’s immediate implementation, the Federal Register remained open for public comments through December 8th. The National Immigrant Justice Center and Human Rights First have challenged the legality of the Rule in federal court in OA v. Trump. Joined by more than 150 civil society organizations, we submitted our federal court complaint as our comment on the proposed rule, stating plainly: This rule is illegal. It is wrong. It must be rescinded.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, any individual who enters the United States, regardless of where or how they entered, is facially eligible to apply for asylum. This simple but critical provision of law was intended to implement the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, to which the United States is party. By unambiguously violating the INA’s asylum protections, the Rule stands as a shameful abdication of the United States’ obligation to serve as a haven for those who meet the internationally agreed upon definition of a refugee. The Rule also violates provisions of U.S. federal law found in the Administrative Procedure Act and the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victim’s Protection Reauthorization Act.

Implementation of the asylum ban is currently enjoined and the subject of numerous lawsuits.

NIJC is proud to continue fighting against implementation of the rule in federal court while standing alongside more than 150 civil society organizations demanding the ban’s rescission. Read the letter we submitted with our public comment.

Joann Bautista is NIJC's policy associate. Heidi Altman is NIJC's director of policy.