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SPLC: New Proposed Rule Would Deal Devastating Blow to Asylum Seekers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, the Biden administration proposed a new administrative rule further restricting access for individuals seeking asylum in the U.S. 

If adopted, the rule would allow asylum officers to apply extremely complicated legal standards during an asylum seeker's initial interview to determine eligibility — decisions previously reserved for immigration judges. At the interview stage, asylum seekers are tired, unsure of what is happening, stuck in detention and unable to consult with an attorney who could explain the law to them and help them present their story. Federal courts have no power to review the results of these interviews to correct even basic legal errors. The legal standards at issue in this proposed rule relate to alleged crimes and support for terrorism. 

The Biden administration is also expanding its ability to use classified information during any stage of a person's immigration proceedings. These changes have the potential to be weaponized against Black, Hispanic, Muslim, and Asian migrants targeted by the administration. 

“For years, the far-right has tried to scare Americans into adopting cruel, anti-immigrant policies that place unfair restrictions on people seeking safety and a better life in the U.S.,” said Sarah Rich, senior supervising attorney and interim senior policy counsel, Southern Poverty Law Center. “Unfortunately, this proposed rule from the Biden administration traffics in the same fearmongering and scare tactics at the expense of those who would benefit from our humanitarian efforts.”

“This new proposed rule will not decrease the number of people who look to our country as their best option to live in safety, security or prosperity. It also will not add order to the process or give asylum seekers a better opportunity to establish whether they meet the criteria to remain in the U.S. Instead, it is an abdication of the nation’s values and a diversion from the real threats we face from domestic white supremacists and anti-democratic authoritarians,” continued Rich

“The SPLC and the American people support modernizing our immigration laws to bring them in line with our welcoming values and to provide a pathway to citizenship. We continue to urge the federal government to adopt a just, humane and welcoming immigration framework that embraces these values and recognizes the vital role immigrants play in communities across the country, including the Deep South,” concluded Rich.