MIL-OSI USA: Ramirez, García lead 16 Members of Congress in Opposition to USCIS Proposed Rule to Add More Restrictions to the Asylum Process

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Delia Ramirez – Illinois (3rd District)

Washington, D.C. — This week, Congresswoman Delia C. Ramirez (IL-03) and Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) led 16 members of Congress to urge the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to abandon a proposed rule that would undermine basic principles of fairness, the humane treatment of asylum seekers, and our nation’s compliance with due process. As written, the “Application of Certain Mandatory Bars in Fear Screenings” rule looks to raise the credible fear screening threshold and allows asylum officers to make complex legal determinations during the screening. 

“Allowing the consideration of mandatory bars to asylum during initial asylum screening interviews will force asylum seekers to present legally and factually complex arguments explaining the life-threatening harms they are fleeing shortly after enduring a long, traumatic journey and while being held in immigration detention and essentially cut off from legal help,” wrote the members of Congress in their comment submitted to DHS.

The lawmakers argue the rule, coupled with Biden’s recent proclamation, puts asylum seekers at grave risk of unlawful removal and return to harm. Last week, President Biden unveiled a new proclamation which, among other harmful changes, requires asylum seekers to convince a border patrol officer of their fear of return and drastically reduces the amount of time allowed for asylum seekers to connect with an attorney and prepare for an initial screening interview.

The Biden Administration just two years ago concluded that the inclusion of mandatory bars in credible fear screenings would make the screenings less efficient, undermining Congress’s intent that the expedited removal process be swift, and would undermine procedural fairness, leading to substantial due process concerns,” the representatives added. “The proposed rule claims to differentiate itself from prior attempts to apply mandatory bars to initial screening interviews by granting asylum officers discretion to consider bars instead of such consideration being mandatory. However, this does nothing to help due process concerns for asylum seekers for whom the bars are considered, and it introduces a new element of potential procedural unfairness, as the proposed rule offers no information on how asylum officers will decide which cases will be subject to a bars analysis.”

In their comment, Ramirez, García, and the representatives argued the proposed rule offers no information on how asylum officers will decide which cases will be subject to a bars analysis. The lack of clarity “opens the door to profiling [asylum seekers] on the basis of their nationality, religion, or other characteristics.” 

The comment is cosigned by Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Cori Bush (MO-01), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), André Carson (IN–7), Greg Casar (TX-35), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC at large), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Jen Schakowsky (IL-09), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Juan Vargas (CA-52). 

The representatives’ comment to the proposed rule is endorsed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, National Immigrant Justice Center, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, Tahirih Justice Center, National Partnership for New Americans, The Advocates for Human Rights, Acacia Center for Justice, Latino Policy Forum, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project, Southwest Organizing Project, Equality Illinois, Chinese American Service League

For the full comment, CLICK HERE.