Dear Supporter of Refugees and Immigrants,
We are writing to let you know about some dire and extremely harmful proposed changes to the US asylum system. On June 15, the administration announced a period for public comment related to a 160-page proposed document that would drastically change the current asylum process in the US, and those who can request asylum. The open comment period is from June 15th –July 15, a mere 30-day window.
CWS in Lancaster stands firmly against these proposed changes, and we are making every effort to submit as many comments as possible within the period. We can resist these dangerous changes but with strength being in numbers, asylum seekers need your help. We are reaching out to you, our partners, and supporters of refugees and immigrants because the stakes are high and we must lift our collective voice to defend what is left of asylum in the US.
We are calling on you to make a comment TODAY, or by July 15th.
The proposed changes in how asylum law is applied would essentially make asylum unattainable to almost everyone wishing to apply. The proposed rules have made both subtle and bold changes that together will, in effect, end asylum for all but a very few. There is no doubt, the consequences will be devastating and life-threatening for many.
Some proposed specific areas of concern are:
- Judges could now deny an asylum claim without a court hearing.
- The new definition of persecution would be very limited and severe. As the definition states in the proposal, only persecution carried out by government actors will be considered for an asylum claim. This will affect many marginalized groups facing violence and persecution at the hands of gangs, rebel groups, and extremists, from whom the government will not protect their citizens.
- It will be more difficult for someone who is inside of the U.S. to apply for asylum. Asylum seekers must prove that they paid taxes, despite not being able to obtain a social security number to meet that requirement.
- In the proposal, there is a new focus on geography instead of the reasonableness of a claim. Applicants will be required to convince an adjudicator why they could not relocate somewhere else within their country or seek protection in another country besides the U.S.
- There are new proposed rules on eligibility for those who have passed through other countries before entering the U.S. An asylum seeker will need to show that they did not pass through any country before seeking asylum in the U.S. If they did pass through a country and wish to ask for asylum, they must show that they were denied protections from the countries of transit, even if it was a country as dangerous as their homeland. This would mean any Central American migrant would be excluded from applying for asylum if they arrived via Mexico.
- The proposed ruling will eliminate eligibility based on gender (I.e. women who were victims of abuse, female genital mutilation, or transgender individuals).
- Being threatened or seriously injured by gang violence will not be considered political persecution even though your government is unable or unwilling to protect you from gangs.
Believe it or not, this overwhelming list is a short list. These proposed rules will ban and bar more people from asylum. You can read a more in-depth summary of the consequences here. Asylum seekers are already the most vulnerable of all intending immigrants to the U.S. and face significant hurdles. Their right to seek protection and due process must be defended.
How can you help?
We urge everyone to write and submit comments– as an individual, an organization, a congregation, or as a community BEFORE JULY 15!
We cannot stress the importance of public feedback enough. This is the main tool at our disposal to maintain protection for asylum seekers. Below and above through the links, we are equipping you with templates to form your comment, and it should be noted that unique comments will have the most impact.
Please feel free to share widely and bring us any questions you may have.
CWS Lancaster Office Director