Reflecting & Rejoicing Celebrating 60 Years of Impact »

We have submitted a Unique Organizational letter in opposition to DHS’ Asylum system proposal urging them to withdraw the rule in its entirety (read The Unity Council’s letter).

“At The Unity Council, every day we get to serve people who have left behind everything to start their lives over in our community. As community leaders dedicated to promote social equity and enhance the lives of thousands of families every day, we believe that a policy amendment where the target is to punish vulnerable immigrant families, children, women, and individuals fleeing their countries to look for help to save their lives is immoral and goes against the American values of fairness, justice, and equality.”.

On June 15, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a proposed rule  which bars anyone who approaches our southern border from receiving asylum, with few exceptions. The sweeping measure slams our doors to individuals, families, and unaccompanied children who are seeking safety, including survivors of gender-based violence.

This proposed rule It is a death sentence for thousands of asylum seekers, and may endanger the safety of the many Unity Council’s clients and community members who have pending asylum cases.

What is this proposal about?

The proposed rule redefines what it means to be “persecuted” and effectively eliminates “gender-based asylum” altogether by expressly excluding from asylum eligibility those who suffer persecution on account of gender, such as women and LGBTQ-identified individuals who have experienced rape, domestic violence, femicide, human trafficking, female genital cutting or a forced heterosexual marriage. It narrows eligibility criteria to deny protection to feminist activists and others who fight for equal rights in matters of education, employment, and other spheres, even when those activities make them targets for brutal retaliatory violence and oppression. It makes the protections of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) inaccessible to some immigrants who are facing expedited deportation. And it removes protections against disclosure of information, potentially allowing abusiers to obtain survivors’ information.

What are the new bars to asylum?

The proposed regulation instructs immigration judges and Asylum Officers to deny asylum to individuals who have:

  • 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 (affecting people from Central America the most who have passed another country on their journey to come to the U.S. or because they crossed the border without going through an official entry point).
  • Ever failed to pay taxes, paid taxes late, or  failed to report any income to the IRS.
  • Been unlawfully present in the United States for at least one year.

Several other bars to asylum are included in the regulation. Immigration judges are instructed to use a person’s unlawful entry into the United States as a “significant adverse factor” when deciding whether to grant asylum.

What is next?

A District Court judge in San Francisco issued an order forcing the asylum ban to a temporary halt nationwide. While we are relieved at the temporary block, the administration has appealed the order, and there will be another hearing in the coming weeks to consider the full merits of the asylum ban.

As we await the hearings, we must act to ensure that asylum protections are not stripped away from those leaving everything behind in search of safety.

We have used our voice to tell the U.S. government that we oppose the new asylum ban.

Comment Tracking Number: 1k4-9htc-nc6q