AHRC Submits Comment Opposing the EOIR and USCIS New Trump Proposed Asylum Rule

On July 9 the Trump administration introduced yet another hateful asylum rule – this time exploiting pandemic fears and weaponizing specious public health claims against asylum seekers. African Human Rights Coalition submitted its public comments today. We urge as many people as possible to speak out against this shameful attack on asylum seekers. An outpouring of comments from the public will help delay this new rule from taking effect and buy crucial, life-saving time.

Document URL- https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2020-14758

Published On 07/09/2020

Comment Submission Date: 08/10/2020 at 3:34 pm
First Name: Melanie  Last: Name Nathan
Email Address: nathan@AfricanHRC.org

Organization Name – African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC)
Submitter’s Representative – Melanie Nathan
Comment:
OPPOSITION from MELANIE NATHAN, By AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COALITION : African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC) submits this comment to oppose the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rule, USCIS Docket No. 2020-0013-0001, Security Bars and Processing, 85 Fed. Reg. 41201 (July 09, 2020) (the “Proposed Rule” or The “Rule”). The Proposed Rule would use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to eliminate the ability of almost all asylum seekers from obtaining humanitarian relief in the United States.
African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC) submits this comment to oppose the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rule, USCIS Docket No. 2020-0013-0001, Security Bars and Processing, 85 Fed. Reg. 41201 (July 09, 2020) (the “Proposed Rule” or The “Rule”). The Proposed Rule would use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to eliminate the ability of almost all asylum seekers from obtaining humanitarian relief in the United States.

African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC) strongly objects to the proposed Rule Change and hereby provides our comment based specifically on the impact on the constituents we work with, African LGBTQI asylum seekers, while remaining fully cognizant of the fact that this Proposed Rule detrimentally impacts all asylum seekers at this time:

It is clear to us that USCIS and the Executive Office for Immigration review (EOIR) have proposed a Regulation that would all but eliminate the ability to seek safety, freedom from persecution and oppression and humanitarian protection in the United States of America during the COVID-19 Pandemic  period which could go for years.

THIS is a time when our providing of protection should be heightened and not eradicated, the latter being the impact of this Rule.  The denial of protections during COVID-19, using it as an excuse, is a great hypocrisy given that the USA is the epicenter for the pandemic at this point,  and serves to steer America away from its values and obligations.

For many decades, federal law–consistent with the United States’ international treaty obligations, has enshrined the basic principle of nonrefoulement, the promise not to deport a person to a place where he or she will be subject to persecution. The Proposed Rule would, for the first time in modern American history, permit the mass-refoulement of asylum seekers and barring them from seeking any form of protection. This is shocking and unacceptable and a lame excuse for the clear anti-immigrant stance of this administration. The clear racist stance of this administration, The clear homophobic and anti-trans stance of this administration and the absolute embrace of the White Supremacist Policy, so evident from this White House.

Objections:

The rule would allow the administration to categorically bar many justified asylum seekers from their right to seek asylum and other life-saving protections, opening the door to deportation without their due process, their day in immigration court:

  1. Public health experts have absolutely rejected the rule, a clear attempt to scapegoat asylum seekers during the pandemic and have urged the withdrawal of this new rule.[1] The Proposed Rule is not justified by public health. Even though the United States itself is the current epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 25% of all diagnosed cases worldwide occurring in the United States, the Proposed Rule purports to protect Americans from COVID-19. But under the Proposed Rule, individuals seeking protection would still be held in detention facilities for weeks or months, more than enough time to test them and ensure quarantine and treatment if necessary. DHS would not even be required to test individuals to determine if they had COVID-19 before declaring them a “danger to the security of the United States” and deporting them to a place where they face persecution or torture.  The latter ensures that this Rule is an ineffective farce that truly serves only to decimate the possibility for asylum.
  2. Branding asylum seekers as national security threats and barring them from protection: If they show any symptom consistent with COVID-19, if they have “come into contact” with the virus, or if they have fled from or passed through a country where the disease is present. This bar is shocking. This is so vague it almost excludes anyone who is suspect in that the likelihood of our authorities making such an allegation is high and how can it be challenged when in fact COVID is so prevalent on countries South of our Border, the likely countries that AFRICAN LGBTQI asylum seekers embarking upon this route would choose? The same could apply to anyone entering through a port or airport. This could apply to asylum seekers who have been exposed to COVID-19 while in the United States, even if they were exposed to the virus while in ICE detention as a result of the administration’s shameful failure to maintain safe and sanitary facilities. People subject to this bar would be banned from both asylum and withholding of removal, a lesser form of protection that our government is legally required to provide people fleeing persecution.This sets a likely untenable precedent that decimates asylum seeking for all and anyone, as in the future this restriction could apply to not only COVID-19, but also many other treatable illnesses (including common sexually transmitted infections) that the administration could declare public health emergencies.
  3. Applying this new bar at the initial credible fear stage, abandoning the credible fear process’ intended function as a preliminary screening where potential bars to asylum are not considered. Nearly all asylum seekers navigate credible fear screenings without legal representation. This stage is crucial for all including LGBTQI asylum seekers from African countries.
  4. Forcing asylum seekers to show they can meet heightened criteria for protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) – the last avenue for deportation relief available to people subject to the new rule, with a high standard that can be difficult to prove. This is a legal standard that is currently applied only in full immigration court hearings, where asylum seekers have the opportunity to prepare their case with the help of an attorney. Meeting it at the initial credible fear stage would be virtually impossible for asylum seekers who arrive at the border alone. Those denied protection at this stage under the new public health bar would be provided no opportunity to present their case to an immigration judge and would instead be summarily deported.
  5. Allowing the government to deport asylum seekers to unsafe third countries, even if they are somehow able to meet the standard to apply for CAT protection. Under the new rule, asylum seekers who against all odds can prove they would face torture in their home country could still be deported by the U.S. government to another country, unless they are able to prove it is “more likely than not” that they would also be tortured in that country – an even more impossible standard to meet. The Proposed Rule eradicates even the prospect of protection under the Convention Against Torture, for the first time ever, by permitting individual officials from the Department of Homeland Security to send someone to a third country unless that person somehow affirmatively proves during a credible fear interview that he or she would be persecuted or tortured in that specific country–without any requirement that the person be informed of the identity of the country in advance. Without notice of the country a person would be sent to, asylum applicants would face a near-impossible burden to avoid being sent to a place where they may be tortured.
  6. The proposed rule exacerbates racist tropes and myths of immigrants as carriers of disease, singling out asylum seekers while imposing no such restrictions on tourists or business travelers coming from or passing through the very same countries. This rule marks yet another blatant attempt by the Trump administration to rewrite our asylum laws and abandon its moral and legal commitments to vulnerable victimized fellow humans seeking our protection. The Proposed Rule refuses to balance interests, adopting a blanket deportation policy that eviscerates our obligations under domestic and international law to protect the vulnerable and avoid sending people to their deaths.

African Human Rights Coalition therefore urges EOIR and USCIS to withdraw the Proposed Rule.

ATTACHED is 70 Page Dossier in 5 files, authored by Melanie Nathan of African Human Rights Coalition, on the extent to which Country Conditions Impact LGBTQI Attached: Asylum Seekers from Africa, reflecting on a target Country Example, while noting that there are over 30 Countries in Africa where LGBTQI people are persecuted by Government, Community, and even friends and family.

______________________
Melanie Nathan
Executive Director
African Human Rights Coalition
nathan@AfricanHRC.org
www.AfricanHRC.org

SURELY AMERICA IS GREAT ENOUGH
 TO ACCOMMODATE
THE MOST VULNERABLE
WITH PROTECTION EVEN DURING A PANDEMIC and GIVEN OUR OBLIGATIONS?

 

See 70 Page
DOSSIER OF ATTACKS ON LGBTQI AFRICA: UGANDA

An Example of One Country in Africa

COUNTRY CONDITIONS for LGBTQI UGANDAN
By Melanie Nathan

Uploaded Files

FILE A Trump Asylum Rule.pdf
FILE B TRUMP ASYLUM RULE.pdf
FILE 02.docx
File C Asylum Trump.pdf
File 06 Memory Asylum Trump.pdf

PLEASE HELP AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COALITION WITH ITS CRITICAL WORK – YOUR DONATIONS AT: www.AfricanHRC.org/donate

By Melanie Nathan
African Human Rights Coalition
(nathan@africanHRC.org)
Executive Director  
AfricanHRC.org
Speaker:Melnathan.com
Blog: Oblogdee.Blog
pronouns: she / her / hers
Mediation: http://www.PrivateCourts.com

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