New Rule Spells Death for the Asylum System—AILA and the Council Urge the Biden Administration to Prioritize its Undoing

December 10, 2020

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration has finalized a regulation that will devastate the United States asylum system by making it nearly impossible for most applicants to successfully claim humanitarian protection in the United States. The rule is set to go into effect on January 11, just nine days before President-Elect Biden takes office. The regulation guts the U.S. asylum system, making protection from persecution impossible for almost everyone. It raises additional obstacles to passing a preliminary screening at the border, eliminates multiple long-established grounds for granting asylum, and allows immigration judges to deny people their day in court by rejecting applications without a hearing. The regulation denies protection to nearly all who pass through more than one country on their way to the United States.   

Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, said, “For generations, the United States has been a beacon of hope for those in need of protection. This new rule breaks that tradition. By choosing to move forward with this regulation, the administration is making clear that deterrence through cruelty is the point until the bitter end. In order to remain a society that protects the most vulnerable, the Biden-Harris administration must take steps to unwind this draconian rule immediately after assuming office.”

According to Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), “Fleeing life-threatening danger for lasting safety is a herculean effort—attaining that safety should not be, and the U.S. government certainly should not be erecting impassable legal walls blocking asylum entirely. This new rule raises the bar for asylum screenings and eventual long-term relief so impossibly high that it effectively shutters the U.S. asylum system. We know the Biden-Harris administration is committed to protecting asylum seekers and urge the President-elect and his team to act swiftly to reverse the immense damage this final-hour rule is certain to wreak on those in need of safety in the United States.”

Jennifer Minear, President of AILA, added, “This rule eviscerates a needed lifeline to those fleeing danger and reiterates a common false narrative promoted by the Trump administration: that border security can only be attained through the gutting of the asylum system. Border security and a humane approach to asylum-processing are not incompatible goals – they must be accomplished in tandem. We are counting on the Biden-Harris administration to revitalize and protect the United States’ commitment to the protection of those fleeing danger and seeking refuge in our country.” 


For more information, contact the American Immigration Council:

Maria Frausto at [email protected] or 202-507-7526; or Tessa Wiseman at [email protected]

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

Most Read

  • Publications
  • Blog Posts
  • Past:
  • Trending