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HIAS Statement on New Asylum Guidance

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SILVER SPRING, Md.—New guidance from the Department of Homeland Security will make it harder for people to assert their right to asylum.

“This guidance, issued without following the process required of new regulations, violates longstanding international and U.S. law,” said Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees. “The guidance undermines the rights of asylum seekers who have already lost their homes and been chased out of their own country due to who they are or what they believe.”

Officers who interview asylum seekers and evaluate refugee applications received the new guidance from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Wednesday. With this policy, the Trump Administration erects many obstacles which prevent victims of domestic or gang violence from receiving asylum in the United States. The guidance even authorizes USCIS to deny asylum seekers for entering without a visa, even though such a denial would violate international law.

“The asylum guidance issued by the Administration is an attempt to rewrite the rules in order to shut America's doors to refugees," added Hetfield. “At a time of global refugee crisis, this sets a chilling example for other countries to rewrite their own rules to curtail their legal obligations to protect refugees fleeing persecution.”

Hetfield said that the guidance violates the letter and spirit of the 1951 Refugee Convention and Protocol, to which the U.S. is a party. “The Convention emerged from the ashes of the Holocaust to ensure that never again would refugees be turned back to a place where their lives would be in grave danger.”

“HIAS has faith that the courts will strike down this policy as a violation of our legal obligation to protect those fleeing persecution.”

 

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