Washington, D.C. – Last night, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Immigration and Citizenship Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) led 70 Members of Congress in opposing the Trump Administration's new proposed regulation that will dramatically rewrite our nation's asylum laws. The rule, published jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) on June 15, 2020, would eliminate long-established procedural protections and change the standards for demonstrating eligibility for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT). This proposal, which is part of a broader effort by the Trump Administration to restrict legal immigration, will deny critical relief to lawful asylum seekers, including women and children who are fleeing life-threatening circumstances.
The Members wrote, "In establishing U.S. asylum law, Congress recognized that individuals seeking our protection face significant obstacles, often arriving in the United States as 'homeless refugees' with few resources. The Refugee Act of 1980 is intended to guarantee that each of these individuals would have a full and fair opportunity to present a claim for asylum. Indeed, '[t]he objectives of [the] Act are to provide a permanent and systematic procedure for the admission to this country of refugees of special humanitarian concern to the United States,' based on a 'uniform process.' The Departments’ proposal runs directly counter to these goals by creating a less inclusive, irregular, and inefficient asylum system that is inconsistent with 'one of the oldest and most important themes in our nation’s history: [w]elcoming homeless refugees to our shores.'"
In addition to Chairs Nadler and Lofgren, the comment was signed byRepresentatives Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Salud O. Carbajal (CA-24), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Judy Chu (CA-27), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01), Jim Cooper (TN-05), J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Jason Crow (CO-06), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-03), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (IL-04), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (MA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Barbara Lee (CA-13), John Lewis (GA-05), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Scott H. Peters (CA-52), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), David E. Price (NC-04), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Cedric L. Richmond (LA-02), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Adam Smith (WA-09), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Mark Takano (CA-41), Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Dina Titus (NV-01), Norma J. Torres (CA-35), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Filemon Vela (TX-34), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), and Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24). The comment was also signed by Senators Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Richard Blumenthal (CT).
The full text of the comment is available here.
Chairs Nadler and Lofgren have been leaders on oversight of the Trump Administration's disgraceful effort to undermine the rights of those seeking asylum in the United States. Following the announcement of this proposed rule, Chairs Nadler and Lofgren condemned the Administration for its "abhorrent, un-American, and illegal" attempt at fundamentally changing our nation's asylum system. In May, Chairman Nadler sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf rejecting the Administration’s legal justification for its decision to halt asylum processing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chairs Nadler and Lofgren also announced an investigation earlier this year into the Administration's Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the "Remain in Mexico" policy, which has eliminated the already scarce due process protections available to asylum-seekers—such as access to counsel—further reducing the likelihood that legitimate asylum-seekers can obtain asylum.