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Washington, D.C. (October 20, 2020) – The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) condemns the extensive bars to asylum protection the Trump administration has announced will be implemented.

At a time when the asylum system is under attack and the U.S. government already is regularly, and unlawfully, returning asylum seekers to harm, a final rule that will be published this week by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice represents yet one more obstacle to protection for people who have come to this country fleeing persecution. The rule will strip away access to the asylum system for those with even minor criminal legal involvement. 

This rule adds new bars to asylum eligibility for those applying after the rule goes into effect based on prior conduct or involvement in the criminal legal system, and significantly alters the way immigration adjudicators determine whether allegations of wrongful or criminal conduct render an individual ineligible for asylum. It opens the door for egregious due process violations by allowing DHS adjudicators to bar some asylum seekers from protection based on offenses for which they were never convicted. The rule will severely impact asylum seekers and threatens U.S. compliance with its obligations under international and domestic asylum law. NIJC submitted a public comment to the Federal Register opposing the rule after it was first proposed in December 2019.

Heidi Altman, NIJC’s Director of Policy, responded to the new rule with the following statement:

“The administration is showing needless cruelty by layering these new bars on an asylum system which already has been decimated since Trump entered office.

Given the widely acknowledged injustices and racial disparities at play in the United States criminal legal system and DHS’s proven history of levying allegations of criminal conduct on flimsy and unreliable evidence, the new rules will do nothing more than layer harm upon harm, injustice upon injustice. They will result in the denial of safety to individuals, families, and children who need it most.”

Take Action: Join NIJC in opposing another set of proposed rules that would cause even further harm by stripping due process rights from asylum seekers: Submit a public comment to the federal register.



The National Immigrant Justice Center is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation and public education.