Amnesty International Comment Opposing Sweeping Changes to the U.S. Asylum System

July 15, 2020

Amnesty International USA today submitted a comment to a sweeping new set of proposed changes to the asylum system which, if implemented, will slam the door to safety for nearly every person who seeks asylum in the United States.

Amnesty International is the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization, comprising a global support base of millions of individual members, supporters, and activists in more than 150 countries and territories. For years, a top priority of the U.S. section of Amnesty International has been the protection of the right to seek asylum; the organization even helped provide input in the drafting of the 1980 Refugee Act, which continues to serve as the backbone of domestic asylum law. Our opposition to the rule at hand is rooted in our expertise in the international human rights standards governing asylum law and our past engagement in research, policy, and litigation related to access to asylum in the United States and the wider region.

Asylum saves lives; these rules will endanger them.

For years now, Amnesty International has charted the devastating impacts of this administration’s anti-immigrant policies on asylum-seeking families, children, and adults. The proposed rules at hand are characteristic of this administration’s animus towards asylum-seekers and its persistent misunderstanding of asylum as a loophole that must be plugged rather than the critical, obligatory protection that it is. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which provides authoritative guidance on states’ legal obligations towards asylum-seekers and refugees, has expressed its concern that “changes contained in the pending regulation, combined with separate restrictions enacted in recent years, would mean that many people fleeing persecution would be unable to request, or obtain, protection in the United States.”

Asylum saves lives. These rules will endanger them. For the reasons described below, Amnesty International urges the administration to rescind these proposed rules in full and restore its commitment to a fair and just asylum system.

Read the rest of our comment.