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Statement on Latest Anti-Asylum Regulations

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Today, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security finalized a rule that restricts most aspects of the U.S. asylum system. The rule, which will be effective on January 11, 2021, typifies the Trump administration’s effort to destroy asylum in the United States.

HIAS and the ADL submitted a joint comment when this rule was first proposed in July. In that comment, we asked for the Departments to withdraw the rule in its entirety. We noted that the proposed rule took “many of the most egregious changes to the U.S. asylum from the last three years, adds upon them, and when taken together, could effectively eliminate asylum eligibility for almost everyone who seeks it.” It further noted that we were “particularly concerned about the proposed changes to basic refugee protection principles, many of which have been the cornerstone of U.S. and international refugee policy since the end of World War II. For example, changing the definition of ‘persecution,’ and altering what ‘particular social group’ means, would gut longstanding U.S. asylum policy.”

In response to the release of the final rule, Naomi Steinberg, HIAS’ vice president for policy and advocacy, said, “We continue to oppose every provision in this rule, because they fly in the face of U.S. obligations to ensure that people seeking protection in the United States have access to an asylum system that adheres to our immigration laws. This final rule amounts to a dream come true for those who want to eliminate the existence of a legal, safe, and humane asylum system in our country, and presents a clear danger for people seeking asylum in the U.S.”

Steinberg added: “HIAS looks forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to overturn the policies that eviscerated U.S. humanitarian protection over the last four years and rebuilding an asylum system that is just and compassionate.”