Last month, the Trump administration submitted new proposed regulations that will harm asylum seekers. These proposed rules are the latest, most comprehensive assault on the right to asylum yet seen—despite a barrage of anti-asylum policies and regulations over the past three years.
The two agencies which have the authority to decide asylum claims (the Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office of Immigration Review) proposed rules that unlawfully rewrite U.S. asylum laws and violate our international obligation not to return refugees and torture survivors to harm. These agencies proposed a Kafkaesque web of rules that will confuse judges, unfairly penalize asylum seekers, and bar them from relief all at once. NIJC urged the agencies to withdraw the Rules in their entirety and ensure that a full and fair asylum system is made accessible to all who seek safety here.
NIJC was not alone in opposing these rules. Among the tens of thousands of fellow organizations and individuals who commented on this rule are four asylees who NIJC represented on their claims. When they learned of these proposed rules, they were devastated in thinking of the impact on future asylum seekers, who deserve and need protection as much as they did. As Ronda compellingly said:
I left Honduras out of necessity, not choice, and many other people are forced to make the same decision every day. No one wants to risk their lives to get to the U.S., and people who leave their country suffer horribly along the way. Imagine how difficult it would be to explain your trauma if you were detained, scared, and without a lawyer.... The opportunity to seek asylum gives people fleeing violence hope. Closing the doors on this hope would be cruel, and I know that if these changes had been adopted earlier, they would’ve hurt me and my family. Fleeing my country and leaving behind my children has shown me how difficult the process of seeking asylum already is, and we should not complicate an already difficult process for people who are fleeing death and torture.
These rules are both cruel and reckless. Already, the Trump administration has walled off asylum seekers at alarming rates. Few are able to enter the United States at all, due to an unlawful, racist, and indefinite ban the executive branch imposed in March. Prior to that ban, a series of interlocking policies forced tens of thousands out, leading to plummeting rates of asylum screening at the border. With these proposed regulations, the Trump administration all but ensure that the few remaining asylum seekers never win protection.
Azadeh Erfani is a Senior Policy Analyst at NIJC.