New Rule Spells Death for the Asylum System—AILA and the Council Urge the Biden Administration to Prioritize its Undoing

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Maer Torrescano, 6, rests with his father Havacuc, 24, from the state of Morelos, Mexico, at the U.S. Border Patrol detention center in Nogales, Arizona, May 31, 2006. REUTERS/Jeff Topping.

Washington, DC – The Trump administration has finalized a regulation that will devastate the United States asylum system by making it nearly impossible for most applicants to successfully claim humanitarian protection in the United States. The rule is set to go into effect on January 11, just nine days before President-Elect Biden takes office. The regulation guts the U.S. asylum system, making protection from persecution impossible for almost everyone. It raises additional obstacles to passing a preliminary screening at the border, eliminates multiple long-established grounds for granting asylum, and allows immigration judges to deny people their day in court by rejecting applications without a hearing. The regulation denies protection to nearly all who pass through more than one country on their way to the United States.

Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, said, “For generations, the United States has been a beacon of hope for those in need of protection. This new rule breaks that tradition. By choosing to move forward with this regulation, the administration is making clear that deterrence through cruelty is the point until the bitter end. In order to remain a society that protects the most vulnerable, the Biden-Harris administration must take steps to unwind this draconian rule immediately after assuming office.”

According to Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), “Fleeing life-threatening danger for lasting safety is a herculean effort—attaining that safety should not be, and the U.S. government certainly should not be erecting impassable legal walls blocking asylum entirely. This new rule raises the bar for asylum screenings and eventual long-term relief so impossibly high that it effectively shutters the U.S. asylum system. We know the Biden-Harris administration is committed to protecting asylum seekers and urge the President-elect and his team to act swiftly to reverse the immense damage this final-hour rule is certain to wreak on those in need of safety in the United States.”

Jennifer Minear, President of AILA, added, “This rule eviscerates a needed lifeline to those fleeing danger and reiterates a common false narrative promoted by the Trump administration: that border security can only be attained through the gutting of the asylum system. Border security and a humane approach to those seeking safety can and must work in tandem. We are counting on the Biden-Harris administration to revitalize the United States’ allegiance to the protection of those in danger.”

The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring. The Council brings together problem solvers and employs four coordinated approaches to advance change—litigation, research, legislative and administrative advocacy, and communications. Follow the latest Council news and information on ImmigrationImpact.com and Twitter @immcouncil.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

This press release was originally published on AILA’s website.

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