Championing for the
Right of Asylum
On June 15, 2020, the US federal government published a new regulation that, if implemented, would basically dismantle the U.S. asylum system. To find out why the Proposed Rule is so dangerous watch this one hour webinar published by American Immigration Council and the Immigration Justice Campaign.
To slow down the implementation of the disturbing Proposed Rules, please take action by submitting a personalized comment before July 15 to regulations.gov .
Here are some draft comments for supporters to personalize and copy into the comments website:
I am a supporter of the current United States Refugee Act of 1980 which recognizes that it has been the historic policy of the United States to respond to the urgent needs of persons subject to persecution in their homelands and to provide assistance, asylum, and resettlement opportunities to admitted refugees. The objectives of this Act are to provide permanent and systematic procedures for the admission to this country of refugees.
The Proposed Rule instead of protecting refugees seems to imply that refugees are untruthful and harmful and that US citizens need to be protected from them. (“As an expression of a nation’s foreign policy, the laws and policies surrounding asylum are an assertion of a government’s right and duty to protect its own resources and citizens, while aiding those in true need of protection from harm.”)
I therefore join Seafarers International House and other immigrant advocacy organizations that strongly oppose the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) Proposed Rule: Procedures for Asylum and Withholding of Removal; Credible Fear and Reasonable Fear Review.
Since 1873, Seafarers International House (SIH) and its predecessor organizations, has been the “Lutheran response to the urgent needs of vulnerable seafarers and immigrants.”
In 2019, SIH helped 36 asylees by providing social work assistance and a total of 1,651 lodging nights, that helped these individuals successfully integrate into our communities, where they became contributing members of our society in the US.
Each year, thousands of non-citizens arriving at our border or already in the United States apply for asylum, or protection from persecution. In the experience of SIH leadership, they flee from their homelands, leaving family and friends behind, often for the following reasons:
Political marginalization (e.g. they are on the "minority/other" side of the prevailing political forces in their home country or region)
Religious persecution (e.g. they are the minority religion in an inhospitable religious environment usually along the lines of Muslim/Christian divisions)
Sexual orientation/gender identity intolerance (67 countries still make homosexuality a crime punishable by imprisonment or death)
Inner family/tribe conflict (Oftentimes the first born male is the inheritor of all the family's property and succeeding brothers receive nothing and are often thought of as a threat to the stability of the older brother so these younger brothers are always under threat of retaliation)
Medical/psychological persecution (e.g. in some countries having a medical condition like epilepsy, diabetes, cleft palate, or even mild depression is considered a spiritual failing and even the sign of satanic presence so these folks are unable to get proper medical care)
The Proposed Rule would eliminate gender based asylum - shutting the door to anyone fleeing life-threatening persecution due to their gender, while undoing decades of legal precedent. Women fleeing rape and severe domestic violence, LGBTQIA+ individuals facing deadly attacks, and those escaping other fatal gender-based harms in their home countries would no longer be able to find safety in the U.S. if the regulations take effect.
Furthermore, the Proposed Rule would
limit who may enter the United States in order to apply for protection and the ability of applicants to make their case before an immigration judge;
narrowly redefine the contours of a viable “political opinion”;
declare de facto ineligible a broad category of claims, including those so-called “private criminal acts” such as domestic and gang violence; and
require applicants to suffer extreme and severe levels of persecution.
Many of the asylum seekers who SIH assists spend the last of their savings or had friends and family contribute towards their plane ticket to escape persecution by flying to the United States of America, traditionally an immigrant nation. The affordable flights are not non-stop flights and include switching planes in another country before reaching the U.S. The Proposed Rule would make the path to asylum significantly more difficult for those who do not have the resources to secure a visa and book a direct flight to the United States.
SIH volunteers also visit detained asylum seekers in the Elizabeth (NJ) Detention Center. They give hope to mostly young adults from Central or South America and Sub-Saharan Africa without means and no relatives or friends in the US. The complexity of the Propose Rule would make it virtually impossible for an asylum seeker to be successful without costly legal representation.
[Please add a personal experience or arguments]
For these reasons I am opposing the Proposed Rule and urge against its implementation.