Mon 8/10: Comment to stop the administration from refusing asylum over COVID-19. Deadline tonight, 11:59pm EST.

Acting Director of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf is unfolding another one of his horrid, xenophobic rules. While the world is shutting Americans out for being the most infected country in the world, this proposed rule would block asylum seekers from seeking protection in the U.S. under the pretext of the pandemic, based on reports of COVID where they came from, even if they’re uninfected, or have been living here for some time. The public health community has condemned the administrations repeated and false associations between immigrants and public health risk. Plus, Wolf’s official time expired before he signed this.

  • Comment here (Remember, it does not need to be long. But it needs to be in your own words.)
  • Read the rule here.
  • Read other comments here for inspiration only. Copied comments will be eliminated.

Information to use.

(OK, campers! We’re giving you a fill-in-the-blank form PLUS a lot of other nifty facts and articles below it. Time to use all that creative writing class knowledge. Don’t just copy/paste the whole thing like ALMOST ALL THE OTHER +2000 COMMENTS! Make it unique! It should be UNRECOGNIZABLE to those searching for duplicates. Why? Because they will strike off duplicates or close-to-duplicates.)

(Template) I am writing to express my [strong] opposition to the proposed rule Docket No: USCIS 2020-0013, A.G. Order No. 4747-2020, which is a [devastating and unjust] attack on asylum seekers that is [_____] and [lacks any real public health rationale.]

[I believe that the United States] should welcome asylum seekers and immigrants because [choose one or more: our laws require it / international laws and human rights norms require it / you or someone you know has/had a communicable disease yet deserves safety / you or your family sought asylum / + other reasons unique to you]. [Asylum seekers are not a threat to public safety. Rather, they are people who have made the incredibly difficult yet brave decision to leave behind their homes in search of safety.]

[Explain why you believe it is important that the United States provide a safe haven for asylum seekers fleeing harm, including your own experiences with asylum seekers or asylees who have personally impacted your life. Talk about your own family’s journey to the US and, if it was many generations ago, how much easier it was.]

This rule would roll back due process rights and cause undue harm to individuals who need protection. [Hundreds of public health experts around the country have made it clear that turning away asylum seekers in a public health emergency would not mitigate the spread of disease./ Instead of implementing a policy based on false rationales and xenophobic tropes of immigrants as carriers of disease, the United States should follow policy guided by public health experts and rooted in compassion or similar] I urge the government to immediately withdraw its current proposal and instead focus on [___ /implementing procedures that would actually protect both the health of those seeking refuge in the United States and those already residing within.}

[Explain why it is fundamentally unfair to fault asylum seekers for being from OR traveling through countries that struggle to contain disease, especially as this pandemic has revealed the deadly failures of governments across the world to stop infections. Note somewhere that the US is one of the most infected countries on the planet.]

Asylum seekers are seeking protection because of persecution; it is not their fault that their country or the countries they transit through fail to contain prevalent illnesses. Labeling asylum seekers a “danger to the security” of the U.S. does not just trample our legal obligations; it also dehumanizes and vilifies those seeking refuge.

[Insert here why you believe excluding asylum seekers who exhibit symptoms of illness is also unfair and unjust, especially as asylum seekers engage in perilous journeys to find safety. Treatment and isolation may be warranted in some circumstances, under guidance of public health experts, but not outright deportation right back to their persecutors. They may have also become infected while waiting here in the US.]

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice should immediately withdraw their current proposal, and instead dedicate their efforts to ensuring that individuals fleeing violence are granted full and fair access to asylum protections in the United States.

Also, the government should pull back any rule that was signed by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security after his term of service expired. This rule was signed by him 29 days too late to be enforced, according to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA), codified in relevant part at 5 § U.S.C. 3346.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on the Proposed Rules.

More facts: 

Note: These paragraphs, copied exactly, are all over the responses. We can do  better! Get the gist, then make it sound like you!!!

Here’s a great article from humanrightsfirst.org and one from rescue.org.

  • Just trying to kill the asylum system: 
    • This will kill people: The proposed rule is a devastatingly ill-informed and harmful attempt to dismantle the U.S. asylum system. If issued, it would grind the U.S.s asylum system to a halt and summarily return people to the persecution from which they have fled, with deadly consequences for many. I strongly urge the agencies to withdraw the proposed rule.
    • No precedence: Such a justification is a major break with prior administrations. In 2005, the then-Attorney General held that the National Security bar applied (only) to risks to “defense, foreign relations, or economic interests.” Covid-19 is none of those things and there is no precedent for Congress or the administration to define a national security bar this way. In fact, current immigration law already includes limits on immigration based on public health. But those limitations have never been considered national security concerns. Moreover the proposed rule sweeps broadly to include any “communicable disease of public health significance.” Given our own catastrophic failure to adequately respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, ascribing a public health reason for such a rule is ludicrous. Indeed, it is counter-factual and thus illegal.
  • Not sick: Under the proposed rule, even if an asylum seeker does not exhibit symptoms of a communicable disease, they could be barred from asylum protection if they hail from or traveled through a country where an outbreak is prevalent or epidemic. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, this provision would be a de facto ban on asylum.
  • Hinder health care workers: The proposed rule would bar asylum-seeking nurses, doctors, health aides, cleaners, and all other essential personnel who have come into contact with COVID-19. As a result, individuals who have risked their lives protecting U.S. communities would be banned from humanitarian protection even if they had fled legitimate threats of or actual persecution.
  • We are net exporters of Coronavirus.
    • We’re #1! It’s very possible that asylees are coming from a country with a lesser prevalence of COVID-19 than here.image.png
    • They caught it here: The proposed rule would bar asylum seekers who have fallen ill from COVID-19 while in the U.S. awaiting their asylum hearing, including those who have contracted the disease while in ICE detention centers. This rule would punish asylum seekers for the failure of ICE to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 throughout its detention facilities.
    • Deporting them spreads it: Deporting an individual from the United States to their country of origin during a global pandemic not under the pretense of “public health” not only does nothing to curb the spread of disease in the US (the individual is already in the US- it is not a border apprehension), but also contributes to the spread of the epidemic globally since it would effectively contribute to cross-border travel.
    • Xenophobic waste of resources. The US should not be using its resources during a pandemic to shift blame to vulnerable people who are already living among us. Instead, resources should be used to save small businesses, augment vaccine production, and provide protection for essential workers. This rule is a distraction from the current administration’s gross mismanagement of the pandemic, at the expense of the Americans it seeks to protect.
    •  Statistics from the World Health Organization (see (see https://covid19.who.int/table) indicate that the United States has more COVID-19 cases than any other country in the world. The United States has suffered more deaths per 100,000 inhabitants than any nation other than the United Kingdom and Chile. It is fundamentally arbitrary and capricious to exclude from the protection of asylum in the United States an applicant who comes from a country where a dangerous disease is prevalent, but less prevalent than in the United States, on the basis that this asylum-seeker is a danger to the United States.
  • Credible fear: We are sending people back to countries they fled for good reason and information is coming back that they are being killed, just as they feared.
    • Impossible standards: The proposed rule forces those seeking protection under the Convention against Torture (CAT) to demonstrate at the initial credible fear screening stage that they would more likely than not be tortured in their country of removal. This is an incredibly high standard that would require survivors to raise and provide evidence for their CAT claim from the very first step in the asylum process, in defiance of established science on traumas impacts on memory recall.
    • Low-level immigration officials: Government workers untrained in even rudimentary medical/public health assessmentswould be able to issue deportation orders based on passing through a Covid-affected country, without consideration of “credible fear” which has been the asylum standard for fifty years. Under the proposed rule, asylum seekers subject to the national security bar would fail these credible fear interviews by accident of geography regardless of how threatened or at risk they were of torture or death in the country they are fleeing from. This cannot be allowed to stand.
    • Diseases will never completely disappear: Until dangerous diseases disappear from the countries of the world – which will probably never happen – asylum and withholding of removal will be a thing of the past.
  • Acting Secretary Chad Wolf has no power to enforce this rule: According to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA), Chad has gone past his limit – which was 210 days from when he started in his position, which was Nov. 13, 2019. This proposed rule was filed on July 8, 2020, 239 days later, and therefore should have no force or effect. Basically, this rule should be dead on arrival.

 

 

 

 

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