Momsrising.org: “We all want the same thing – a safe place for our families to live and thrive. That’s exactly what parents are looking for when they reach our border and request asylum. We all want our children to be alive and well. For some parents that means they have to trek international borders to keep themselves and their children safe from persecution and violence.
Moms know the importance of keeping their children and families safe. We know we have to do more on our border to protect those fleeing violence hoping to find asylum here.
Our nation cannot, and should not, block vulnerable asylum seeking women, children, and families from finding safety within our borders. The right to access asylum upon arrival at a U.S. border is foundational to international and domestic refugee law.”
Comment Kit – How to write and post a comment that will count!!
The proposed rule is called “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” and comments are due by 11:59 pm on March 27.
- Respond directly to the regulations.gov site here.
- Must be in English.
- Please note that comments submitted through this form will be placed into the public record. However, you can post anonymously if you wish.
- Browse other people’s comments for inspiration here.
- Do not copy another comment WORD-FOR-WORD! Identical comments WILL ONLY BE COUNTED AS (1) COMMENT, no matter how many copies they receive!
- If you’re using another’s comment as a base to get started:
- Edit the hell out of it to make the comment sound like how you think and speak.
- Add in personal knowledge, and expertise.
- Contrast and compare this proposed rule with your own family’s immigration history
- Comment on how this rule impacts you, your loved ones, and/or your community (if true, please describe).
- Talk about American values and how this rule relates to them.
- Use facts! Use links!
NOTE: We’ve gotten some feedback about whether we should be confronting the Biden administration about this – are we playing into the relentless maw of GOP reactionaries?
No. Comments are NECESSARY for the Biden administration to IMPROVE this proposal. This is not the Trump administration, where one assumes that dissenting arguments will be dropped into a pile and burned. Yes there are issues at the border. Yes, improvements can be made. But this proposal is not the correct answer out of the box and it’s our responsibility to educate them.
The authors appear to have no experience with working with asylum-seekers or others who’ve been un-housed by a variety of harsh circumstances. To them, pulling a fully-charged state-of-the-art phone out of their pocket is just normal. Educate them.
They’ve also forgotten that the right answer is not always the most convenient one. Democracy, for example, is full of inefficiencies and inconveniences that any dictator would remove immediately. What is important is to get the basics correct – that presumption of eligibility is correct and that a presumption of ineligibility is wrong. Their job is to create a system that respects this while not letting an error as silly as phone access prevent people in danger from finding safe harbor within our borders.
Look at this not as an indictment of Biden, but as an opportunity to educate his administration and to ask them to do better.
Fwd.us describes (5) important issues below of the proposed asylum ban in very understandable terms. We suggest reading the full article to help make your comment more powerful.
- Almost all individuals seeking safety would be banned from applying for relief.
- Uphold a fundamental human right the U.S. is constitutionally obligated to uphold, and previously championed at the international level. Under U.S. immigration law and international treaty, any individual who is present in the U.S., regardless of their immigration status or how they entered, can claim a “credible fear” of persecution if they were to be sent back to their country of origin, and is subsequently eligible to apply for asylum.
- Create unnecessary barriers to protection that will put the lives of people seeking asylum at risk. Under this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the government would flip presumptions upside-down. Instead of being presumed “eligible for asylum until proven otherwise“, under the new policy, asylum-seekers would be handicapped at the starting line with “a rebuttable presumption of ineligibility for asylum.”
- They would allow (4) narrow exceptions, which may involve complicated procedures like applying for asylum in countries they pass through, or using a bug-ridden mobil app. If they mess up, as humans on the run with few resources, little access or familiarity with cellphones, language issues, or even darker skin that confuses the app’s facial recognition system, the door to asylum could be shut on them forever.
- Breaks from President Biden’s campaign promises and threatens to bring back some of the previous president’s most harmful asylum policies. Biden-the-candidate forcefully criticized the “Remain in Mexico policy (MPP)” while running against then-President Trump in 2020, proclaiming, “You come to the United States and you make your case. That’s how you seek asylum, based on the following premise, why I deserve it under American law. They’re sitting in squalor on the other side of the river.”
- Banning people from seeking asylum is a cruel and misguided response to a problem made worse by decades of Congressional inaction and failures to build legal migration pathways. Conditions in many countries in the Americas and the broader Western Hemisphere, have worsened dramatically over the last decade, forcing people to flee their homes. Oversees refugees include those running from war, such as Ukrainians.
- Restricting access to the asylum system would fuel more chaos at the border and increase unauthorized border crossings.It Reinstate prior asylum bans that were deemed illegal.
- “The asylum ban may replicate the impacts of MPP, leaving many individuals and families trapped in dangerous and inhumane conditions. That is because the new asylum ban effectively recreates the MPP policy of forcing individuals to wait in Mexico until a scheduled appointment time; the only significant change is replacing pen-and-paper lists with a mobile app that is inaccessible to all but a small fraction of its ostensibly intended audience.“
- For those of us who run citizenship fairs – lack of technological access is a HUGE issue.
- Strengthening legal avenues for family reunification, employment, and humanitarian relief would be a more fair, humane, and orderly approach
- the asylum ban does not expand access to new or alternative legal processes; it only restricts existing pathways by barring people from applying for asylum.
- Rather than restricting access to asylum, President Biden should stand by his commitments to build a more fair, humane, and effective immigration system. This could include continuing to exercise executive authority to create and expand legal pathways to come and contribute to the United States, building on the successes already achieved.
- Your voice can help push back on the asylum ban
- The proposed asylum ban is clearly a misstep, but it also has the potential to be even more devastating if weaponized by a future administration seeking to restrict and reduce legal immigration even further.
The specific questions they are asking the public input are listed here. Address as many as you want.
- Whether the proposed duration of the rule should be modified, including whether it should be shorter, longer, or of indefinite duration;
- Whether the Departments should modify, eliminate, or add to the proposed grounds for necessarily rebutting the rebuttable presumption;
- Whether the Departments should modify, eliminate, or add to the proposed exceptions to the rebuttable presumption;
- Whether the proposed mechanisms for evaluating asylum, statutory withholding, and CAT claims should be retained or modified;
- Whether any further regulatory provisions should be added or amended to address the application of the rebuttable presumption in adjudications that take place after the rule’s sunset date; and
- Whether the proposed rule appropriately provides migrants a meaningful and realistic opportunity to seek protection.
Examples of comments!
This is a form letter form from MomsRising.org. https://action.momsrising.org/sign/protect_asylum_2023/ They will get a lot of exact duplicates. If you want to use this as a base, change it up!
Dear Secretary Mayorkas:
We need a just and humane asylum system that treats parents and children arriving at our borders with dignity and respect. Those fleeing persecution and seeking safety here can, and should, be treated humanely and fairly.
The moms of America ask you to unequivocally reject the cruel asylum policies of the Trump Administration, some, like Title 42, that are being utilized to this day and to keep from using them ever again. It is a human right to seek asylum and placing cruel barriers to the process, like the transit ban, that discriminate on the basis of race and financial wealth, only puts the lives of vulnerable parents and children in danger.
We can create a fair, humane, and efficient asylum system that doesn’t separate families or hold unaccompanied minors in immigration detention or force families to live in tent cities along the border, putting women and children in danger.
We ask you to defend the right to seek asylum, lead with strength, and help our nation live up to its values and become a beacon of hope and safety for people fleeing persecution and violence.
This is a great letter from immigrationjustice.quorum.us. Concise and to the point. DON’T USE IT WORD-FOR-WORD! Mix it up! And please, don’t leave prompts for unique material on the comment. Seriously! Unfortunately, there are already a large number of duplicate comments – THEY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!
The proposed rule is contrary to well-established United States law regarding the right to seek asylum in our country. Individuals should be able to access our asylum system regardless of how they enter, as has been the law for decades. They should not be forced to seek asylum in transit to the United States, especially not in countries where they may also face harm.
[Insert personal experience with asylum, and/or personal opinions about the importance of access to asylum, danger faced by asylum seekers in transit countries, impacts of family separation for asylum seekers, etc.]
The rule will also cause confusion at ports of entry and cause chaos and exacerbate backlogs in our immigration courts. People who cannot access the CBP One app are at serious risk of being turned away by CBP, even if the rule says otherwise. Additionally, as was demonstrated by the previous Trump Transit Ban, the rule is likely to create confusion and additional backlogs at the immigration courts as individual judges attempt to apply a complicated, convoluted rule.
[Insert suggestions of what you would like to see happen at the border and how asylum seekers should be treated].
Here is how someone took the Immigration Justice letter above and made it unique. Don’t copy THIS letter word-for-word either!
Asylum-seeking is a human right. I truly do not understand why Biden is following the Trump hate-filled playbook. It is truly wrong in every way. I get it that there are a lot of people who are asking for asylum, but we can handle it without having to dump people in Mexico where they are victimized by all kinds of groups. That is beyond cruel. The proposed rule is contrary to well-established United States law regarding the right to seek asylum in our country. Individuals should be able to access our asylum system regardless of how they enter, as has been the law for decades. They should not be forced to seek asylum in transit to the United States, especially not in countries where they may also face harm. The ending of Title 42—itself an illegal policy—should not be used as an excuse to resurrect Trump-era categorical bans on groups of asylum seekers. I can’t help but wonder wh ose idea that was.
The rule is guaranteed to cause confusion at ports of entry and cause chaos and exacerbate backlogs in our immigration courts. People who cannot access the CBP One app are at serious risk of being turned away by CBP, even if the rule says otherwise. Additionally, as was demonstrated by the previous Trump Transit Ban, the rule is likely to create confusion and additional backlogs at the immigration courts as individual judges attempt to apply a complicated, convoluted rule that is just unnecessary and cruel. We can and must do better! R.Sheets
Letters don’t have to be long! But try to make and defend a point. If you have alternative soltions, tell them!
The asylum ban has been the most destructive legislation to harm families across immigrant backgrounds with an undue burden on those fleeing violence.
This is why the asylum ban should cease to exist as it drives xenophobic policies and places survivors and victims of crime to distrust systems.
Do not enact this rule change.
It is a betrayal of fundamental human rights that the USA is constitutionally obligated to uphold, and which we once proudly championed. It puts the lives of those seeking asylum at risk, needlessly and cruelly. It rehashes previous asylum bans that were found to be illegal. And it is not just a breach but a BETRAYAL of your campaign promises.
Don’t try to fight the Republican scaremongering about the “border crisis” by imitating Trump.
Deeper Dive – more materials to work with!
- (fwd.us) President Biden’s Proposed Asylum Ban – 5 Things to Know
- (Aljazeera) Biden administration issues proposal to restrict asylum seekers – The new rule would make asylum seekers ineligible for US protection if they ‘circumvent’ legal pathways.
- (Immigration impact) It Is Legal to Seek Asylum
- (WaPo) Biden immigration plan would restrict illegal border crossings
- (Letter to Biden from Democrats) DearPresidentBiden:
(Immigration Justice) The Biden administration is taking comments from the public about its plan to bring back an asylum ban – a new version of one of the most anti-asylum seeker policies of the Trump era.
While the administration has attempted to distinguish its asylum ban from Trump’s policies, it still has the same effect: denying asylum seekers the protection they need in the United States. The rule they are proposing would ban many refugees from asylum protection in the United States based on their manner of entry into the United States and transit through other countries.
This asylum ban, like Trump’s, will separate families and lead to the return of asylum seekers to harm and possible death. It will disproportionately harm Black, Brown, and Indigenous asylum seekers requesting safety at the U.S. southern border – who often cannot afford or access a visa to arrive in the U.S. by plane and instead trek across multiple countries to arrive at the border. While the Trump asylum ban was in effect, immigration court asylum denial rates for these groups greatly increased. Indigenous women and girls, many of whom will likely be barred by the rule, are at heightened risk for sex and human trafficking, extortion, and violence due to the continued erasure of their Indigenous identities, language exclusion, and ongoing discrimination they face throughout their journeys.
Our U.S. laws and treaties protect asylum seekers and prohibit their return to persecution and torture. Our laws also explicitly guard an asylum seeker’s right to seek protection regardless of how they arrive in the United States. The rule would unlawfully deny protection to asylum seekers and require them to seek asylum in countries that do not have functional asylum systems and where they may still be in harm’s way.
The administration is asking the public what we think about this rule and will consider our comments before issuing the final version. Please add your voice to tell them how this rule will harm asylum seekers.
The government is required to review and respond to comments in writing in the Federal Register. For example,this rule published in September contains nearly 100 pages of the government’s anonymized summarizations and responses to comments submitted by the public, including descriptions of where they made changes to the rule in response to public comments. To make sure the government counts and considers your comment, please edit our pre-drafted suggestion to make it unique – duplicate comments will otherwise be lumped together and responded to as one.
Please add your comment to tell them how this rule will harm asylum seekers before the comment period closes on March 27.
(American Immigration Lawyers Association) Practice Brief: The Proposed Asylum Transit Ban Creates Access to Asylum in Name Only
AILA Doc. No. 23022211 | Dated February 22, 2023 | File Size: 705 K DOWNLOAD THE DOCUMENT
Yesterday, the Biden administration released a notice of proposed rulemaking intended to encourage the use of pathways other than the lawful access to asylum at our southern border. This proposed rule would apply only to asylum seekers who, after Title 42 ends and in the two-year-period after the rule goes into effect, enter at the southwest border without proper documentation and traveled through a country that is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol. It creates a “rebuttable presumption” that a person is ineligible for asylum unless: the individual is granted parole prior to arrival, presented themselves at a port of entry through a pre-scheduled time and place, or sought asylum or other protection in a country they traveled through and received a final denial.1
AILA acknowledges the very real challenges that the Biden administration faces at the southern border in light of changing regional migration patterns and finite resources. The efforts described within this proposed rule to expand refugee processing and short-term work visas2 are greatly needed and will help alleviate pressures at the southern border. We also appreciate that this regulation explicitly does not apply to unaccompanied children, that the administration recognizes the need for prompt employment authorization for parolees,3 and that the regulation rescinds the enjoined Trump-era asylum transit bans. AILA has proposed solutions for how migration in southern border region can be managed more effectively while still ensuring a fair and humane system.
The proposed rule will severely restrict access to asylum and violate U.S. asylum law, which requires that meaningful access to asylum be made available even to people who arrive by irregular means. The alleged safeguards of the rebuttable presumptions are insufficient given the complexity of navigating them and the lack of counsel that is common at the credible fear stage. Additionally, the proposed regulation relies heavily upon CBP’s internet-based scheduling system, CBP One, to provide a way for an asylum applicant to schedule a time to enter at port of entry. CBP One is severely flawed and currently blocks asylum seekers from obtaining review of their asylum request.
Hinging access to asylum on the CBP One application will deny access to asylum at the southern border to asylum seekers. While we recognize the need behind the CBP One application to manage border flows, the roll out of this application demonstrates that this program is years from the role this regulation places on it. Attorneys report entire shelters that house asylum seekers in Mexico unable to access CBP One appointments because the application cannot function without access to reliable internet. Users regularly report that the app freezes and stays frozen and that getting an appointment is reduced to luck and the strength of the Wi-Fi access.4 Finally, the CBP One application does not consistently recognize black faces, making it difficult for people to pass a mandatory “liveness” test required to schedule an appointment.5 Mandating use of this application to access asylum at our southern border reinforces existing racial disparities within our asylum system, which is a step in the wrong direction.6
While the regulation includes safe guards that will allow a person who manages to access a port of entry by means other than CBP One “to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that it was not possible to access or use the CBP One app due to language barrier, illiteracy, significant technical failure, or other ongoing and serious obstacle,” arguing the “preponderance of evidence” is yet another complex barrier to being able to access asylum.7 The CBP One application itself has the potential as an important tool to manage the southern border, but CBP has not yet addressed these important concerns and is not ready to be relied upon for access to the life-saving asylum process.
The exceptions to the “rebuttable presumption” will be impossible to navigate for pro se asylum seekers. This proposed rule creates a complex system to bypass the rebuttable presumption, which includes demonstrating by the “preponderance of the evidence” that “exceptionally compelling circumstances exist.”8The proposed rule specifically lists acute medical emergency, imminent and extreme threat to life or safety (such as rape, kidnapping, torture, or murder), and satisfying the legal definition of a “victim of a severe form of tracking in persons.”9
Navigating this added layer to our already complex asylum system will be particularly problematic given the application of the rebuttable presumption to the credible fear interview stage. Under this proposed rule, the asylum officer determines whether the asylum seeker has rebutted this presumption. If they have not, they receive a negative fear determination for their asylum claim. The asylum officer will then determine whether the asylum seeker established a higher “reasonable possibility” of persecution or torture. They will likely navigate this rebuttable presumption alone, as asylum seekers very rarely have attorney representation at this stage. This is demonstrated in the data of the new asylum processing rule, where only 1% of credible fear cases have attorney representation.10
The Biden administration faces a very real challenge at the southern border. This region is where the most vulnerable asylum seekers arrive, including those who do not have access to a plane ticket to fly to the United States through the newly established parole programs. However, the proposed regulation is not the answer to these challenges. This proposed regulation adds unnecessary complexity to the asylum process that will become insurmountable barriers to asylum, especially to those who do not have legal counsel.
1 Circumvention of Lawful Pathways (unpublished proposed rule accessed Feb. 21, 2023), Federal Register, https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2023-03718/circumvention-of-lawful-pathways, at 145-146 (hereafter “Proposed Rule”).
2 Proposed Rule at 45-47.
3 Proposed Rule at 11-12.
4 “U.S. Border Protection app causes tech headaches for asylum seekers,” Marketplace Tech, Feb. 1, 2023, https://www.marketplace.org/shows/marketplace-tech/u-s-border-protection-app-causes-tech-headaches-for-asylum-seekers/.
5 Melissa del Bosque, “Facial recognition bias frustrates Black asylum applicants to US, advocates say,” Guardian, Feb. 8, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/feb/08/us-immigration-cbp-one-app-facial-recognition-bias
6 University of Maine School of Law, “Report: Noston Asylum Office violates rights of asylum seekers,” Mar. 23, 2022, https://mainelaw.maine.edu/news/report-boston-asylum-office-violates-rights-of-asylum-seekers/.
7 Proposed Rule at 48-49.
8 Proposed Rule at 146.
9 Proposed Rule at 146.
10 Department of Homeland Security, “Asylum Processing Rule Cohort Report – October 2022,” Jan. 6, 2023, https://www.dhs.gov/immigration-statistics/special-reports/asylum-processing-rule-report. (Tab: Credible Fear Claims, “Final or Most Recent Credible Fear Outcome by Attorney Representation.” The available data demonstrates that 27 cases have attorney representation out of 3,179 cases completed under this pilot program.)
(American Immigration Lawyers Association) AILA Policy Brief: Restoring Integrity and Independence to America’s Immigration Courts
Many Americans are not aware that our nation’s immigration courts, unlike other courts, are a part of DOJ — the very same law-enforcement agency that is charged with prosecuting criminal immigration cases in federal courts. That’s why AILA believes America needs an independent, Article I immigration court that will administer our nation’s immigration laws free from political manipulation.