The Trump administration has proposed a new asylum regulation which has been described as the most severe approach to immigration policy the United States has seen yet. The new rule was proposed by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security and is titled “The Rule on Procedures for Asylum and Withholding of Removal.” If the proposal is implemented, claiming asylum in the U.S. would be near impossible. It would also serve as a significant departure from U.S. obligations regarding asylum under both domestic and international law. Asylum is a human right and it is imperative that the United States adopts a framework which allows asylum seekers to have their claims heard in due process. As such, the Trump administration must be held accountable for its deeply inhumane restrictions on seeking safety in the United States.
The proposed rule would act to significantly limit eligibility for claiming asylum in the United States. It entails a series of new immigration bans, including banning asylum claims from individuals who did not file an asylum claim in other countries they passed through to reach the U.S.. This element builds upon a rule which the United States enforced last July to force displaced people to claim asylum in one of the first countries they pass through in transit. Failure to do so may render them ineligible to claim asylum in the U.S..
Additionally, the proposed rule issues an outright ban of asylum claims based upon certain grounds. If implemented, asylum would not be granted to individuals seeking protection in the U.S. from gangs, terrorists or “rogue” governments. Furthermore, lower level asylum officers would be granted the power to dismiss asylum claims as “frivolous,” thus preventing them from being heard and denying any form of protection. Members of the administration argue that the proposed rule aims to “streamline” the asylum process and allow for quicker decisions. However, it is clear that its true purpose is to make claiming asylum in the United States much more difficult, if not impossible.
In response to the proposed asylum rule, Greg Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association made a statement to NBC news. It highlights the serious implications the proposal carries. He stated: “The proposed rule is literally the kitchen sink of asylum bans and will end any notion of asylum that still remains, recognizing that this administration has already issued so many previous bans.”
Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel for the American Immigration Council, told Al Jazeera that the proposal threatens to “represent the end of the asylum system as we know it.” The effect of the proposed regulation is that virtually all asylum claims would be denied.
The proposal must go through a public comment period, after which it will be implemented. It will build upon a series of increasingly hostile immigration policies implemented by the Trump administration in recent months designed to restrict asylum access. This included the implementation of the “return to Mexico” policy and the establishment of various “Asylum Cooperative Agreements” with Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. This allows individuals seeking asylum in the United States to instead be redirected to these countries- another flagrant violation of U.S. obligation under international law.
Asylum is a human right. The increasingly hostile measures implemented by the Trump administration to restrict individuals fleeing violence and persecution from being able to access this right are abhorrent. The United States should act to reform its policies and process asylum claims in accordance with its obligations under international law. If this proposal is implemented, it would become near impossible for certain groups to seek safety in the U.S. This is something the international community cannot and should not accept.
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