Refugee Congress Condemns Proposed New Rule Blocking Asylum-Seekers


Refugee Congress condemns the Trump Administration’s newest attack on asylum-seeking protections — a proposed rule that would redefine who is eligible for humanitarian protection and bar people with well-founded fears of persecution from seeking asylum.

The rule uses the pretext of public health to restrict asylum-seeking. It would bar people who work in healthcare fields, people who have become infected with COVID-19 while awaiting an asylum hearing in the U.S. and people who merely came from a country where COVID-19 is prevalent from seeking asylum, even if they demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution.

“Asylum-seekers are people — humans like you and me — and they aren’t just at risk from the global pandemic, but they don’t have anywhere to return to because they are at risk of losing their lives in their countries of origin,” said Valdir Solera, Jr., Refugee Congress Delegate for Hawaii. “This rule and other restrictions on asylum could condemn them to death.”

As an organization built and led by refugees, asylum-seekers and other vulnerable migrants, Refugee Congress knows the importance of asylum as a lifesaving protection. We are deeply concerned about this Administration’s use of the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for blocking people fleeing persecution. This regulation puts asylum-seekers and their families at great personal danger.

“Immigrants and asylum-seekers leave countries where there is hunger, unemployment, oppression, violence and war,” said Carmen Kcomt, Refugee Congress Board Member and Delegate for California. “They are exercising a natural and moral right that no legal norm or regulation should try to stifle — right to life, and right to survival.”

Refugee Congress believes everyone has the right to protection from persecution, and we condemn the ongoing attacks on these protections. We believe it is vital that our nation embraces its long tradition of protecting refugees and asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution.