January 22, 2020

Castro Urges Barr and Wolf to Reverse Cruel Changes to Asylum Eligibility

WASHINGTON—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees, sent a letter with twelve other members of Congress to Secretary Chad Wolf at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Attorney General William Barr at the U.S. Department of Justice, urging opposition to proposed rules to amend regulations related to eligibility for asylum, and calling for their immediate reconsideration:

“These proposed changes are unnecessary, harsh, and an unlawful gutting of the asylum protections enshrined in the United States and in international law. Chad Wolf and Bill Barr are once again sidestepping precedent and submitting to total xenophobia and bigotry. They should instead rededicate their misguided efforts to ensuring individuals and families fleeing violence are granted full access to legal asylum protections in the U.S.,” said Congressman Castro. “This Administration has continued to exclude refugees from securing citizenship in the U.S. asylum system. These protections in U.S. law are sacred, and the proposed criminal bars only work to destroy a long-standing infrastructure that protects refugees from persecution. To strip away these inalienable rights is as inhumane as it is wrong. I urge the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to reconsider these cruel changes swiftly and without delay.” 

Background: The proposed rules were published in the Federal Register on December 19, 2019. Members of Congress are submitting these comments to express their opposition and voice grave concerns with the Administration’s continued efforts to exclude refugees from obtaining the security and stability the United States asylum system has long promised. The first proposed set of changes adds seven categorical bars to asylum eligibility, including any conviction for several newly defined categories of misdemeanor offenses. The second section of the proposed rules provides a multi-factor test for immigration adjudicators to determine whether a criminal conviction or sentence is valid for the purpose of determining asylum eligibility, and the third section rescinds a provision in the current rules regarding the reconsideration of discretionary asylum.

To read the letter in full, click here. 

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