Trump Administration Plans Unnecessary and Unconscionable Ban on Asylum Seekers Masked Behind False Public Health Premise

July 8, 2020

WASHINGTONOn Wednesday, July 8, 2020, the Trump administration announced a soon-to-be-published proposed rule that would allow the Department of Homeland Security to ban people from seeking asylum in the United States solely because they traveled from or through a country under threat by a serious diseaseFor the first time, the Trump administration would also ban “withholding of removal,” a related form of protection that the Department of Justice has previously agreed in court it cannot eliminate without violating international lawThe government has given only 30 days for the public to comment on this proposed rule. 

American Immigration Lawyers Association President Jennifer Minear stated, Protecting our nation’s health and security is vital, but this sweeping ban on asylum seekers is entirely unnecessary and unjustified. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal agencies already have the tools they need to keep our nation safe from anyone who might have a serious communicable disease, including stringent immigration screening procedures and laws that protect against public health risks. The United States has among the highest COVID-19 infection rates worldwide, so the real threat of COVID-19 is not outside our nation’s borders but within them. Like the prior CDC order from March that was recently extended indefinitely to ban asylum seekers, this is an unconscionable attempt to scapegoat vulnerable people who are seeking humanitarian protection under the pretextual ruse of safeguarding the public health. The redundant nature of this ban also makes it clear that this is a backstop in case the courts strike down the border bans already implemented by this administration.  America can and must process the applications of asylum seekers arriving at our borders in an orderly and humane fashion while still protecting the public welfare.” 

Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council, said said “We stand with all Americans in wanting to keep everyone safe and healthy during this pandemic. However, this proposed regulation does not do that. There are existing legal mechanisms in place to address public health concerns. Instead, this proposed rule is part of an ongoing effort to scapegoat asylum seekers for a virus that is already widespread in the United States. The proposal is simply a pretext to implement a drastic change to our immigration system that the administration has sought from day one—the elimination of asylum in the United States. How we treat vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic will define our true character as a nation for years to come. America can be a leader in public health, rule of law, and compassion.”


For more information, contact:

Maria Frausto, American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 202-507-7526; or George Tzamaras, [email protected], 202-507-7649.

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

Most Read

  • Publications
  • Blog Posts
  • Past:
  • Trending