Children Among Those at Greatest Risk to be Harmed by the Administration’s Latest Attack on Asylum

On June 15, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) of the Department of Justice issued a proposed rule in the Federal Register. The proposed rule sets out to amend regulations regarding asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture.  Written or electronic comments must be submitted on or before July 15, 2020.

A CALL TO ACTION!

Write Comments to the Proposed New Rule on Asylum

The DOJ’s press release regarding the proposed rule details some of the changes including permitting immigration judges to pretermit asylum applications without a hearing if the application does not demonstrate prima facie eligibility, changing the definition of when an application is “frivolous,” as well as changing definitions to important terms such as “particular social group,” “political opinion,” and “persecution.”

Asylum law has been under attack[1] for years under the Trump Administration, but this latest attack deals the strongest blow. If the final rule is similar to the proposed rule and the regulations are changed, the asylum system as we know it will be vastly altered. Access to the humanitarian relief will be curtailed and restricted to a very small few. Individuals without attorneys, those who are detained, and children will be impacted the most because they may not have the ability to obtain documents quickly and/or the ability to articulate their arguments to meet stringent new requirements.

The administration’s push for efficiency and negative viewpoint of asylum seekers has created changes to the system that run contrary to trauma-informed lawyering. Advocates endeavor to work with children and individuals seeking asylum in a way that honors their humanity and acknowledges their suffering and trauma. As advocates, we understand the time it takes our clients to tell their personal stories – what led them to leave their homes and everything they know for the chance and hope of safety and freedom from persecution and torture. The changes deny the fact this is a humanitarian-based relief, relief that should be available to those seeking protection for themselves and their families.

The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice recently hosted a superb webinar, Shutting Doors: How the U.S. is Poised to End Asylum & Turn Its Back on the Persecuted, providing an overview of the proposed changes. The webinar and additional information regarding submitting comments is posted on the ABA’s website. CILA has included some of these resources below to help you or your organization make comments to the proposed rule.

There is a window of time between now and July 15, 2020 for advocates and the public to make their voices heard that this proposed rule is in violation of domestic and international law, as well as our ethical obligations to competently and diligently represent our clients. All asylum seekers, including unaccompanied children, will be drastically impacted by these proposed changes. It is imperative to help make a strong commenting record for the Departments’ consideration in final rule-making and pave the way and protect the record for any future litigation on the proposed changes.

[1] To learn more about the administration’s prior attacks on asylum, read CILA’s blog post The Intersection of the Transit Bar, MPP & Metering. Additionally, consult CILA’s resource Asylum Law Under Attack: What is the Impact on Unaccompanied Children? available on our Additional Resources webpage. Contact CILA at cila@abacila.org if you need the password to access these resources.

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