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Trump Orders Sweeping Limitations for Asylum Seekers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Trump administration on Wednesday issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would make it nearly impossible for an individual seeking asylum to do so successfully. The rule comes after more than three years of attacks by this administration on U.S. asylum laws and policies. Among numerous provisions, the proposed rule, issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, would:

  • vastly expand the circumstances under which an asylum request can be considered frivolous, which would ultimately block access to protection and would have widespread impact on an immigration case far beyond asylum alone;
  • allow judges to make negative decisions on an asylum application without giving the applicant a chance to testify, which would be especially damaging to those who do not have an attorney and who must apply for asylum without the guidance of legal counsel;
  • widely amend the grounds for asylum, blocking access to asylum for nearly anyone who passes through one or more country before arriving in the United States, even if that transit was just a layover in another country;
  • virtually eliminate persecution based on gender as a ground for asylum, as well as all but foreclose protection for those who had suffered persecution based on their religion, sexual orientation, and more;
  • ignore the Congressionally mandated exceptions to the one-year filing deadline to asylum, preventing many who might otherwise qualify for asylum from doing so.

In response, Michelle Brané, senior director, Migrant Rights and Justice, at the Women’s Refugee Commission, issued the following statement:

“This proposed rule guts what little remains of the U.S. system of asylum laws and processes. The rule eviscerates the concept of protection for those fleeing persecution enshrined both in the U.N. Refugee Convention and the 1980 Refugee Act that incorporated U.S. obligations into domestic law.

“This latest act of inhumanity from the White House completes the project initiated by Stephen Miller from the first days of the Trump administration – to completely end all access to protection and asylum in the United States. It erodes the very foundation of U.S. asylum law and trades an already complicated legacy of protecting the persecuted for a legacy of abandoning completely those who thought the United States was a refuge of fairness and safety. At a moment when the nation should take stock of its complicated history, this is a yet another slap in the face to justice.

“This administration has shown time and time again its utter disregard for human life and safety. It has leveled particularly vicious attacks on women and those fleeing gender-based violence. The proposed regulation undermines access to protection and due process in innumerable ways, but knowingly eviscerates critical – and internationally recognized – protections that the lives of women fleeing gender-based violence and seeking asylum in the United States depend on. These proposed regulations are unconscionable.”