News & Views

Help us #SaveAsylum

On July 9th, 2020, the federal Administration issued another new proposed rule in an attempt to gut the US asylum program.

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This proposed rule would “mitigate the risk of a deadly communicable disease being brought to the United States, or being further spread within the country” by:

  • Adding public health emergencies (“risk of further spreading infectious or highly contagious illnesses or diseases”) to the national security grounds on which people seeking asylum or withholding of removal could be denied
  • Giving DHS the power to swiftly deport asylum seekers who DHS determines pose “a danger to the security of the United States” on public health grounds, without affording them the basic due process protections of having their claim heard before an immigration judge
  • Forcing those seeking protection under the Convention against Torture (CAT) to demonstrate their likelihood of being tortured in their country of removal at the initial credible fear screening stage
  • Still allowing removal to a third country even if the asylum-seeker can prove high likelihood of torture

The rule could:

  • Bar essential personnel who are already in the US from seeking asylum if they have come into contact with COVID-19 for any reason, including by risking their lives in the pandemic response as health workers
  • Bar asylum-seekers who have contracted COVID-19 while in the United States waiting for an asylum hearing – including those in ICE detention centers
  • Bar asylum-seekers because they recently came from a country other than the United States where COVID-19 is prevalent, even if they are not infected
  • Allow the administration to potentially extend the ban to other diseases, including treatable conditions like gonorrhea, syphilis and TB, to block even more asylum-seekers.”

Asylum-seekers are not a public health risk, but COVID-19 spreads rapidly in the dangerous and unsanitary conditions seen at detention centers and in border towns. A recent study proposed that allowing individuals to shelter in place with family or friends would reduce the need for quarantine facilities. While there is no evidence that asylum-seekers have spread COVID-19 within the US, deportation has already spread COVID-19 to other countries.

Immigrants disproportionately work on the front lines as essential workers, whether as medical personnel or in the home healthcare, service, or food industries,

How You Can Help

Comments are due by 11:59PM on Monday, August 10th. Submit your comment today and help us #SaveAsylum.

Text adapted from justsecurity.org
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