Tues. 7/14: Speak out against the Trump administration’s deadly new asylum proposal – deadline Wednesday – 7/15

Article regarding Salvadoran deaths here.

Write a comment against Trump’s proposed human rights violating asylum changes. Deadline 7/15 (Wednesday) 11:59 pm EST.

Over the last three years, the Trump administration has drastically altered the U.S. asylum system. From attempts to ban asylum seekers who entered the United States between Ports of Entry, to forcing more than 60,000 to wait in squalor in Mexico while their cases wind their way through backlogged immigration courts, gaining access to the U.S. asylum system has become fraught with challenges.

Now, our country is knowingly sending asylum seekers to dangerous countries where gang members and government authorities will prey on them. More than 138 innocent people have been murdered after being deported to El Salvador between 2014 and 2018. At least 70 other Salvadorans were reported sexual assault or suffered other types of violence – such as extortion, dismemberment or torture – when returned to El Salvador.

The Trump administration is doing everything it can to stop asylum seekers, short of murdering them directly – and it’s doing so right under our noses. Death by deportation is a crime of racism, white nationalism and willful negligence.

Now they’re proposing to make asylum even harder to get. WRITE BACK!

On June 15, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security jointly released a series of proposed changes to the asylum system that, if implemented, would essentially make it impossible for almost anyone to find safety in the United States.

Between now and July 15 the public can comment here before the deadline- July 15, at 11:59pm EST, on these proposed changes, which include:

  • Completely barring granting of asylum on the basis of gender
  • Changing the very definition of “persecution”
  • Redefining some of the core grounds for asylum claims, including membership in a “particular social group,” which could have a dire impact on women and LGBTQ individuals.
  • Denying asylum to people who transited through other countries on their way to the United States
  • Denying asylum seekers basic due process and their day in court by allowing immigration judges to decide cases just based on asylum seekers’ written applications

Before the proposed changes can be finalized, the administration must review each and every unique comment that they receive; your comments are important!

Here’s how to comment:

  • Go to this link to make a comment.
  • Go to this link to read the proposed regulation
  • Go to this link to read other comments for INSPIRATION ONLY!
  • Read this comment (open the PDF link) for an amazing lawyerly history and rebuttal FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. Do not copy!

Here’s how to make your comment more effective.

  •  Make your comment unique and USE YOUR OWN WORDS! (don’t just copy and paste) because the system will discard duplicate entries.
  • The most important thing you need to do is:
    -Say who you are.
    -Explain why you think these new asylum rules are bad, in your own words, no legalese necessary.
    -Say why it is important to you.
  • If you have experience in an issue area, say so. If you are a subject matter expert and want to offer comments on your area of expertise, explain why you are qualified to offer this perspective. Feel free to explain your educational and professional background, or attach a copy of your CV to your comment, but this is not necessary, so don’t let it stop you from writing from your heart. The same holds true for faith leaders, and for those of you who are called to work with immigrants by your faith. Feel free to talk about your faith in your comment.
  • You can make as many comments as you want and they can range from a line or two to an attached letter.
  • If you’re using an existing comment as a guide –   Mix it up! Mix it up! Use a different starting sentence! – “I am/was very upset/angry/disappointed, etc…to read/hear/learn/…

Sample Comment parts.

  • (Identify) (Identifying the rule # is optional – your comment is going in the right place.) I am writing to share my strong opposition to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) Joint Notice of Proposed  Rulemaking: Procedures for Asylum and Withholding of Removal; Credible Fear and Reasonable Fear Review; RIN 1615-AC42 / 1125-AA94 / EOIR Docket No. 18-0002/ A.G. Order No. 4714-2020.
  • (Day in Court) The Proposed Rule Would Deprive Asylum Seekers of Their Day in Court. Immigration judges will be able to deny asylum without a court hearing, and base their decision on information taken by an asylum officer at the border.
  • (Day in Court) I object to these proposed changes because they would effectively make it impossible for anyone to find safety in the United States through the U.S. asylum system. They would deny most asylum seekers their day in court, and they would completely bar the granting of asylum on the basis of gender. They would also change the very definition of what “persecution” means. In addition, they would make getting asylum because of one’s political opinion or membership in a particular social group exponentially more difficult, and quite absurdly, deny asylum to people who have two or more layovers while they travel to the United States.
  • (Gender-based) The Proposed Rule would eliminate gender based asylum – shutting the door to anyone fleeing life-threatening persecution due to their gender, while undoing decades of legal precedent. Women fleeing rape and severe domestic violence, LGBTQ+ individuals facing deadly attacks, and those escaping other fatal gender-based harms in their home countries would no longer be able to find safety in the U.S. if the regulations take effect.

  • (PrecedenceIt raises the bar for passing the initial screening interview for Credible Fear of persecution or torture in the individual’s native country. 

  • (PrecedenceIf these proposed changes were to be implemented, they would roll back decades of established legal precedent, resulting in the disappearance of refugee protections that have long been accepted as a key part of who we are as a country.
  • (Absurdity) If asylum seekers passed through at least two countries prior to arriving in the United States or stayed in another country for at least 14 days prior to arriving in the United States.
  • (Absurdity) The Proposed Rule Will Make it Virtually Impossible to Succeed on a Particular Social Group Claim. Applicants for asylum and withholding of removal have to demonstrate that the persecution they fear is on account of a protected characteristic: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group (PSG), or political opinion. These regulations would essentially make it impossible for asylum seekers, especially those from Central America and Mexico, to win protection based on particular social group membership.
  • (Petty)  The Proposed Rule Seeks to deny asylum to anyone who fails to file taxes or is late to file.
  • (Rogue racism) The new regulations change how the United Nations Convention Against Torture is interpreted.
  • (Gangs rule) It significantly restricts asylum for victims of political persecution if it involves a nongovernment organization or a terrorist organization.

  • (Redefines Political Opinion) There is no reasonable basis to limit the definition of politician opinion and exclude the possibility that applicants’ expression of opposition to terrorist or gang organizations can qualify as a political opinion. This restriction utterly fails to recognize that many asylum seekers flee their homelands precisely because the government of their country is unable or unwilling to control non-state actors such as international criminal organizations.
  • (Faulty review process) Please include that the 30-day review period is too short, and request a 60-day time period for this, the norm for comments. We are not immigration lawyers, and it’s impossible for us to be able to understand all of the changes and the impact that these changes will have on asylum seekers, and on the asylum process. Plus we are still living in a pandemic, which adds another layer of complication to the review process.
  • (Speak from your heart) [Insert your own opinions about why you support a strong U.S. asylum system and why you oppose the proposed changes. For example, why does abolishing the U.S. asylum system violate your Jewish/Christian/Muslim values? Does your family have a refugee story? Are you friends with someone who is an asylum seeker or was granted asylum? Do you work/volunteer with refugees? Have you seen firsthand how refugees contribute to your community?]
  • (Close with a clear ask) It is for these reasons that I urge you to immediately rescind the Proposed Rule and instead dedicate your efforts to advancing policies that respect individuals’ legal right to seek asylum.

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