GA Voice

White House Rule Would Require Asylum Seekers to Seek Protection in Third Country


Groups that advocate on behalf of LGBTQ and intersex immigrants have sharply criticized the Biden-Harris administra­tion over its plans to prohibit people from asking for asylum at the Southern border if they don’t seek protection in a country through which they passed.

“The proposed rule would encourage migrants to avail themselves of lawful, safe and orderly pathways into the United States, or otherwise to seek asylum or other protection in countries through which they travel, thereby reducing reliance on human smuggling networks that exploit migrants for financial gain,” reads the proposed rule the White House announced. “It would do so by introducin­g a rebuttable presumptio­n of asylum ineligibil­ity for certain noncitizen­s who neither avail themselves of a lawful, safe and orderly pathway to the United States nor seek asylum or other protection in a country through which they travel.”

The Associated Press notes the proposed rule must go through a 30-day public comment period before it can take effect. The regulation will remain in place for two years if the administra­tion implements it. “The president’s proposed rule will deny asylum to thousands of otherwise eligible refugees, many of whom will be LGBTQ people,” said Immigratio­n Equality Executive Director Aaron C. Morris in a press release. “The rule puts into place impossible hurdles that people fleeing persecutio­n will never be able to overcome. Additional­ly, a requiremen­t that LGBTQ people apply for asylum in other countries before coming to the U.S. is misguided and blatantly contrary to federal law. Many common transit countries are extremely dangerous for LGBTQ asylum seekers, who face brutal violence, sexual assault, and murder as they flee to the U.S. for safety.”

Erin Argueta, senior lead attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, in a statement said it is “beyond disappoint­ing that the Biden administra­tion is moving forward with an anti-asylum policy that is copied from the cruel transit ban issued by the Trump administra­tion.”

“The Biden administra­tion should not continue putting obstacles in the way of people fleeing danger and seeking safety in the United States, which will only increase harm,” said Argueta. “Instead, this administra­tion should be strengthen­ing the legal right to seek asylum at the U.S. border, not proposing an unworkable alternativ­e that will only increase harm.”

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