Updated July 15, 2020. You can read the public comment that CDF-Texas submitted here.
While Americans everywhere are distracted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration is proposing a new set of rules that would make it nearly impossible for asylum-seekers to find safety in our country. We want everyone to understand how dangerous these rules would be if passed. The good news is, there is an action you can take that would help! You can submit a public comment critical of this proposal on the Federal Register (see below for instructions and suggestions of what to write). Public comments are a great way to slow down the government’s ability to finalize this proposed rule change.
If the government succeeds in finalizing this proposed rule, some of the changes would include:
- Redefine who can apply for asylum. These changes would eliminate protections for LGBTQ+ persons, women and girls fleeing gender-based violence, and those who resist gang recruitment. Our government wants to turn its back on these groups who have been attacked for their identity, their gender, and their unwillingness to become part of gang violence.
- Change the definition of “persecution” and “torture.”
- Take away asylum-seekers’ time in court. This new rule would allow immigration judges to make decisions based only on the asylum-seeker’s written application. The written application is full of complicated language and harms those with language or literacy barriers.
- Punish asylum-seekers for working. Historically, asylum seekers have had permission to work in the U.S. while they wait for their asylum case to work through the court system. Recently, the administration started the process of changing this by putting various barriers between asylum-seekers and their ability to work. If this rule passes, it would add yet another barrier. When weighing an asylum application, immigration judges would have to consider working without a permit as a factor against the asylum-seeker. The Trump administration is trying to punish asylum-seekers for putting food on the table and caring for their children.
- Denying asylum to people who entered the country unlawfully, or who submitted their asylum application more than a year after entering the country without exceptions.
- Break international and national law. Asylum is a core human right that the United States has sworn to protect. As described, the proposed rule would violate the 1951 Refugee Convention, the 1967 Protocol, and the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. The Trump administration’s actions would not only be immoral but illegal.
These are just some of the cruel and damaging changes that this new rule proposes. But remember: you can take action by submitting a public comment. The administration must read and respond to every unique comment, so your words will help delay the passing of these dangerous laws. You have until July 15th to submit a comment online to tell the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice that you oppose this illegal and immoral attempt to end asylum. Together, we can use our voices to support those fleeing persecution, danger, and violence as they protect their lives and the lives of their children.
On July 13, CDF-Texas submitted a public comment. You can read our public comment here.
What Do I Write in a Public Comment?
While you can write anything you like in your public comment, we have written some suggestions. You can use these talking points when writing your public comment:
- By narrowing the definition of who qualifies for asylum this tightly, the proposed rule makes the U.S. asylum system basically useless and puts children and their families at risk.
- For generations, suffering through domestic violence or gang violence has been enough to grant people asylum. This is the law, in fact. This rule seeks to ignore these precedents and puts vulnerable asylum seekers in harm’s way.
- The rule forces asylum-seekers with language barriers to rely heavily on complicated and lengthy asylum applications.
- The new rule assumes that asylum-seekers can and will apply for asylum in any country they travel through. This ignores the possibility that this country, for example Mexico, may be just as dangerous as the asylum seekers’ home country.
- Through this rule, the Trump administration unfairly punishes asylum-seekers that lack the money and education to navigate the asylum system.
- These proposed amendments go against international law (like the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol) on how to treat refugees, including guidance on how to try their claims for asylum.
If you want to dig a little deeper when writing your public comment, look at these detailed resources:
- Anam Rahman (an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law) wrote this analysis of the proposed rule and compared it to current law.
- The American Immigration Council and the Immigration Justice Campaign led this webinar to describe the most devastating changes within this proposed rule.
- The National Immigration Forum outlined the significant changes proposed by the Trump administration here.