Safe Passage Project comment opposing new asylum rules

Caroline Spector, July 22, 2020


Last month, the Trump administration proposed a new set of rules that would make it nearly impossible for people fleeing violence and persecution to obtain asylum in the United States. These rules would remove asylum protections that have been in place for decades, essentially re-writing the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Safe Passage strongly opposes this action and has submitted a public comment calling for the proposed changes to be withdrawn entirely.

From our comment, submitted on July 15:

All of the proposed rules described above are attempts to radically rewrite the U.S. asylum system. Taken together, these proposed rules would eviscerate asylum protections that have been in place for decades. It would throw out established precedent and would essentially re-write the INA—a task that is constitutionally entrusted to the Legislature, and that is not for an executive agency to undertake.

If these rules are enacted, the vast majority of asylum seekers will likely be denied even
if they have well-founded fears of persecution—which, of course, may very well be the point. It is difficult to imagine that any asylum seeker arriving at the southern border would not be subject to at least one of the bars or limitations these rules seek to impose. Even if they were not subject to one of these discretionary bars it is highly unlikely they would be able to meet the elevated evidentiary standards, both in preliminary border fear screenings, in asylum interviews and proceedings before immigration judges.

The United States has long been a symbol of hope for those fleeing persecution. We are a
nation founded by immigrants on the promise that those seeking shelter may come here,
experience freedom, and have the opportunity to better their lives. These rules seek to snuff out that hope and destroy that dream for the tens of thousands of people seeking safe haven. We call upon the administration to withdraw these proposed rules in their entirety, and instead to redirect its energy towards promoting the United States’ highest ideals, rather than give in to its basest notions of bigotry and exclusion.