Trump Administration Wants to Block Asylum Seekers Because of Coronavirus Risk
Meanwhile, the United States has one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates of any country in the world.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration proposed a new rule that would block asylum seekers from entering the United States from countries experiencing disease outbreaks. The regulation would allow the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice to keep immigrants considered a public health risk from seeking asylum in the U.S., in order to "minimize the spread and possible introduction into the United States of communicable and widespread disease."
The new rule, which has not yet gone into effect, would apply to both asylum seekers and those asking for "withholding of removal," a protected status for those who can prove they would likely face danger if they returned to their home countries. Determination of whether someone is a public health risk would be made at the "credible fear" screening — the interview that determines whether or not an immigrant has a credible fear of returning home — rather than in immigration court.
“Protecting our nation’s health and security is vital, but this sweeping ban on asylum seekers is entirely unnecessary and unjustified," Jennifer Minear, the president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said in a statement. "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 pre-textual ruse of safeguarding the public health."