The Trump Administration Exploits Pandemic, Threatens Asylum

The Trump Administration is exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to further erode asylum protections. On July 31, they issued a proposed regulation that would use the narrow national security exception to asylum and protections under the Convention Against Torture to allow DHS and DOJ officials to deny protections and entry to bona fide applicants for a range of health-related issues not limited in scope or time to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress and the UNHCR made clear that the nationality security exception was a limited exception to allow countries to deny protections even where a person has proven a fear of persecution or torture if and only if the danger presented is “a serious danger to the foundations or the very existence of the State.” While the COVID-19 pandemic does require reasonable protections, the UNHCR and numerous medical professionals have detailed accommodations and safety measures-- such as testing and quarantine-- that would allow us to protect our country's health without violating our obligations under international and domestic law. The Advocates for Human Rights submitted a comment opposing the proposed change and demanding the Administration withdraw the unfounded and illegal proposal. The Administration must read and consider every comment submitted before publishing a final rule.

This is the latest proposed rule in a spate of harmful actions by the Administration to eviscerate asylum protections. The Advocates has remained steadfast in our efforts to oppose such actions while continuing to provide direct legal services and counsel to our clients.