Federal judge blocks new rule on asylum procedures

BREAKING NEWS: On January 8, 2021, a federal judge decided that the government cannot change the asylum process as it had planned to do beginning on Monday, January 11. You can read more about the judge’s decision in this news article. The now-blocked rule was one of several new immigration measures announced by the Trump administration last month, which have been attacked in the federal courts by immigrants’ rights groups across the country.

The judge’s decision was the result of lawsuits filed by immigrants’ rights organizations. The membership of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) firmly opposed this unjust rule. ASAP submitted 58 pages of arguments against the rule during the period in which the government accepted comments from the public. According to the judge’s decision, the new rule will remain blocked while the lawsuit is pending.

The decision is based on the argument that the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Chad Wolf, was put in his position improperly and lacked the authority to issue the new rule. ASAP members were the first to use this argument in a lawsuit against the unjust policies of the government in their federal court case protecting the right of asylum seekers to work legally in the United States, CASA v. Wolf. The same argument has been used in other lawsuits, for example in the case which successfully stopped the government from increasing fees for many immigration applications

Before this decision, the government had planned to put in place drastic changes to asylum procedures starting on Monday. The proposed rule would have done the following:

  • Practically eliminate asylum for cases based on domestic violence or gang violence;
  • Require that asylum seekers show a more extreme level of of harm (than is currently required) to qualify for asylum;
  • Provide more reasons an immigration judge could use to deny asylum, including not paying taxes or not applying for asylum within one year after arriving in the U.S.; and
  • Allow the judge to make a decision on your asylum application without a court hearing

With respect to the present decision, the federal government will decide whether to appeal or accept the judge’s order. We will try to update you as more information becomes available.

Note: This information is for individuals seeking asylum in the United States and is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.

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