On June 10, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services proposed sweeping regulations that, if implemented, would substantially dismantle our nation’s asylum system. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area condemns these proposed changes, which represent a blatant rejection of our commitments under U.S. law and international treaty obligations to provide safe harbor to those in need of humanitarian protection.
Under the proposed regulations, an individual who is seeking protection from gender-based persecution would be ineligible for asylum, one of many barriers included in the proposed changes. This would leave thousands of women and girls attempting to escape life threatening situations, including domestic violence, sexual assault and female genital cutting, without the legally required opportunity to seek protection in the United States. The new regulation would also ban from asylum the thousands of people who submit their applications more than a year after arriving in the United States with no exceptions.
While we are still reeling from this devastating attack on our system of asylum laws, the Trump administration also announced yesterday a plan to bar many asylum seekers from receiving work authorization, stripping some of the most vulnerable people in our society from any means of economic survival. The new rule restricts asylum seekers from seeking employment for an entire year and, in some cases, would prohibit them from working altogether. The combination of proposed changes to drastically narrow those who are eligible for asylum while simultaneously preventing those seeking asylum from working is an affront to the most basic notions of immigrant, economic, and racial justice. These actions are even more cruel and inhumane given the current global pandemic that is disproportionately taking the lives of low-income communities of color and those without access to medical care.
For the past 35 years, LCCRSF’s Asylum Program has provided legal representation for refugees who have escaped persecution and torture in their native countries. These changes could impact nearly all of the clients that we work with and those who come to us seeking assistance by making it even more difficult for asylum to be granted and for asylum seekers to survive on a day to day basis.
We will stand up against the Trump Administration’s morally reprehensible attacks on Black, indigenous, and people of color seeking asylum the United States and continue to provide legal representation for asylum seekers. We will advocate with our community and our pro bono partners to fight against the dismantling of the U.S. asylum system. We will not stop until there is justice for asylum seekers.