Everyone who cares about asylum can submit a comment. To help frame your comment, you will find an outline below or use the downloadable form of the issues raised in the regulations, a brief analysis of why The Advocates opposes them, and suggestions of how you can personalize your comment using the information below.
DO NOT simply copy and paste the model comment into the form you submit. The government will only respond to unique comments.
MODEL COMMENTS FOR CONCERNED PUBLIC
You can submit a comment in your own words before July 15, 2020. Reference RIN 1125-AA94 or EOIR Docket No. 18-0002 at any of the following:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the website instructions for submitting comments.
Email (preferred): DHSDeskOfficer@omb.eop.gov (include the docket number and “Attention: Desk Officer for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS” in the subject line of the email).
Mail: Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, 725 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20503; Attention: Desk Officer, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS.
I oppose the regulatory changes proposed by DHS and DOJ that would eviscerate asylum protections and violate Due Process. Our country has long supported the right to seek asylum from persecution and torture, and is founded on rule of law and due process for all. Asylum is not a “loophole” being exploited by hoards of people—it is a crucial lifeline for those brave few that make the difficult decision to leave their homes in search of the most basic protections. They should not then be met by an America—which has always been a bastion of hope—that criminalizes, ostracizes and punishes them. There are about 100,000 active asylum applications year—something our country and, and should, absorb. There is no evidence that most are trying to ‘game the system.’ This rule is not only contrary to our laws and value, it is unnecessary because there are already effective policies and practices our government uses to detect fraud and process applications.
I am concerned about these policies for a number of reasons. [Add here your own voice and professional expertise or personal experiences, or those of people you know. Explain why, in your view, the U.S. should not try to make it harder or impossible for someone to obtain asylum protections in the U.S. We have provided an outline of issues raised in the rule and model language, but encourage you to draft a personalized comment if possible. Choose any of the issues below to discuss and provide personal examples from cases you are familiar with, people with whom you have interacted, or other reasons you think relevant. Alternatively, provide a simple paragraph that states your support for the right to seek asylum and why you believe this human right is important to maintain.]
The proposed rule builds on the Administration’s previous attempts to cut asylum protections, including incorporating several policies the legality of which is being challenged in federal courts. The proposed rule violates Congressional legislation, Due Process, our obligations under the international law, and our values as a nation.
I disagree with the proposed changes to deny asylum unless someone can show they suffered or will suffer “extreme” harms. This sets aside years of precedent and experience showing that persecution comes in many forms, and that any definition must be dynamic to respond.
I also oppose the proposed changes that would improperly limit the definition of “political opinion” to only those cases that involve a cause against a state or a political entity. Many asylum seekers face harm due to their opinions that are political but not aimed directly at a state or political entity. Alternatively, asylum seekers come from countries in which non-state actors exercise significant power to cause harm. This change is an attempt to limit protections for many meritorious cases, particularly around gender-based violence and those targeted by non-state actors.
I oppose the proposed rule change that would violate the Due Process rights of those applying for asylum at the border by denying access to full immigration court proceedings; instead, forcing them into more limited asylum-and-withholding-only proceedings. Asylum-seekers must be afforded full access to due process of law. This provision will not only thwart human rights protections for asylum seekers, but also will deny trafficking victims and vulnerable youth the opportunity to raise other forms of immigration protection.
I also oppose the changes that would permit immigration judges to deny asylum applications without a hearing if they believe an applicant hasn’t put forth enough evidence. I am aware that many asylum seekers do not speak English, do not have knowledge of complex U.S. immigration law, may not have resources to hire a lawyer, and that the asylum process is complex and challenging even for those with legal representation. Denying asylum applicants the right to present their case, including presenting witnesses and testimony in a language they understand before an immigration judge, is an essential Due Process and human rights protection that we cannot remove.
Additionally, I am very concerned about the proposed rule’s new restriction of how one can prove they merit protection as a “member in a particular social group.” The history of refugee protections indicates that this ground has consistently been left undefined in order to allow responsiveness to unprecedented or novel harms that require one to flee persecution. For example, LGBT+ groups would not fit into other categories for asylum, but are now generally accepted as a group needing protection from harms. If this regulation was in place many years ago, we may never have gotten precedent allowing LGBT+ asylum claims. Additionally, I vehemently oppose the rule’s outright ban on asylum based on gender, which would deny protection to women fleeing sex slavery or those experiencing Female Genital Mutilation.
I further disagree with the new proposals that arbitrarily define as significant negative factors entering the U.S. without authorization or with fake documents. I am aware that this may be the only option for many people fleeing persecution because the U.S. has limited the numbers of refugees we accept from outside the U.S. and the law requires someone to be physically present in the U.S. to apply for asylum. I also oppose incorporating the other factors listed, such as criminal convictions that have been reversed or vacated, failure to pay taxes, or passing through other countries prior to arriving in the United—the last of which is an attempt to incorporate by regulation a policy the legality of which is being reviewed by federal courts.
While most of these restrictions would still allow a person to be granted minimum protections from removal, the rule also creates additional barriers even to those most basic protections. I oppose rules that value Withholding of Removal and Convention Against Torture protections over asylum because I believe this will create a class of people in limbo that will harm the U.S. Under these protections, a person can remain in the U.S. and work, but cannot travel outside the U.S., be reunited with family members in the U.S., or ever be on a path to a permanent status or citizenship in the U.S. This creates a disincentive for vulnerable populations to invest and become part of our society despite the fact that they will likely remain in the U.S. indefinitely due to their torture or persecution in their home country.
For these reasons and because I believe our country must continue to uphold the values on which we were formed—as a bastion of hope for the huddled masses and leader in the human rights movement— I oppose the rule in its entirety.
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