The Trump Administration Continues its Attack on Asylum

By: Sylva Graham

Since the Trump administration took office, it has proposed and implemented many policy changes in order to limit asylum relief.  From separating families at the border, forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico to submit their asylum request, limiting gender-based asylum, banning those who traveled through a third country from seeking asylum, charging a fee to file asylum, to the latest policy change – setting forth new bars to asylum.

On October 21, 2020, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security published a new final rule that will take effect 30 days after its publication. This new rule bars certain asylum seekers from receiving asylum as a matter of discretion. The new bars are as follows:

– Aliens who have been convicted of alien harboring, alien smuggling, and illegal reentry.

– Aliens who have been convicted of a crime that the Attorney General knows or has a reason to believe was committed in support of criminal street gang activity.

– Aliens convicted of DUI causing serious bodily injury or Death of another person.

– Aliens convicted of two DUIs.

– Aliens convicted of stalking, child abuse, domestic battery (including misdemeanor), domestic violence, or any crime the alien committed against a spouse or a partner where the conduct was harassment, intimidation, use or threat of violence or infliction of injury or physical pain.

– Aliens convicted of any felony.

– Aliens convicted of any misdemeanor offense relating to using or possessing false identification documents, fraudulent receipt of federal public benefits, or possessing or trafficking controlled substance or paraphernalia (other than single offense of possession of 30g or less of marijuana).

– Aliens for whom there are serious reasons to believe have engaged in domestic violence.

This new rule significantly expands the bars to asylum, beyond the mandatory statutory bars. It is to be seen whether these new rules will be challenged in court, as is the case with most of the new rules being implemented by the current Trump administration. In an environment where rules and regulations are constantly changing, it is now more important than ever to consult with an experienced immigration attorney before filing any applications.