Immigration Law

Coalition of State AGs Oppose Trump Asylum Rule: Letter

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Aug. 15, 2019

"California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today led a multistate coalition in filing a comment letter opposing the Trump Administration’s attempt to illegally limit access to the asylum process. Under the rule, individuals entering the United States at the southern border, except in limited circumstances, are no longer able to seek asylum unless they applied for and were denied protection in at least one country they transited through prior to their arrival. In a comment letter, the coalition urges the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to rescind the policy.

“Our nation was built by people who fled violence and persecution,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Rather than offering hope and refuge, the Trump Administration is now telling them to go back to where they came from. It’s un-American and breaks with decades of legal precedent. Together, we’re going to stand up for the rights of those seeking asylum in our country.”

In the comment letter, the coalition maintains that, among other things, the rule violates both the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the Administrative Procedure Act. Under INA, any foreign national may apply for asylum upon their presence or arrival to the United States. These asylum protections were built on the principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which sought to mitigate some of the horrors visited upon refugees during and after World War II. INA sets forth very specific circumstances under which an individual can be barred from asylum, and provides protections for particularly vulnerable groups. In promulgating the rule, the Trump Administration failed to provide adequate notice or articulate a reasoned explanation for the rule, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. In addition, the rule will have a particularly negative effect on unaccompanied children, LGBTQ applicants, and women asylum-seekers, for whom applying for asylum in a third country is extremely dangerous. In fact, recognizing the rule is likely contrary to law, a federal court has already halted its initial implementation.

Attorney General Becerra is leading the fight to safeguard the human rights of people in California and throughout the county. In July, Attorney General Becerra led a coalition to defend the health and welfare of immigrant children detained by the federal government. The California Department of Justice also urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to withdraw a proposal that risks eliminating housing assistance funds for tens of thousands of Californians. In addition, because of a preliminary injunction secured by California, nearly half a million Dreamers have been able to renew their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protections. Earlier this year, Attorney General Becerra also led a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s illegal diversion of funds to construct a wall at the southern border and released a first-of-its-kind report on immigration detention facilities in California.

In submitting the comment letter, Attorney General Becerra is joined by the Attorneys General of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the letter is available here."