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For Immediate Release:
July 16, 2020
Contact: 518-486-9844
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Proposed Rule Unnecessarily Increases the Burden on Asylum Applications

The New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) opposing a new rule proposal that would increase the burden for asylum applicants and restrict the number of new Americans eligible for asylum. If enacted, the new rule would cause irreparable harm to ONA and the people of the State of New York.

“This rule is the Trump Administration’s latest attempt to harm one of our most vulnerable populations, those seeking asylum,” said Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “This rule in nothing more than a thinly veiled outcome-oriented maneuver to restrict immigrants eligible for asylum, unfairly hurting those who need our help the most. While the federal government continues to threaten our immigrant communities, New York will not sit idly by and will continue fighting to protect the rights of new Americans.”

For decades, asylum has allowed immigrants fleeing often deadly violence and persecution in their home countries to seek shelter and safety in the United States. This proposed rule, announced on June 10th and published in the Federal Registry on June 15th, attempts to unify the standards of proof for both the asylum and statutory withholding of removal/protection under CAT screening processes by proposing this category of asylees be held to the same standard of proof as those accused of crimes or convicted of crimes. The asylum and “withholding” screening processes will now be held to the higher “reasonable possibility” standard of proof.

By imposing the rule, DOJ and DHS would subject all non-citizens seeking asylum to the higher and more burdensome of the existing standards of proof. By restricting certain core definitions in asylum law, this proposed rule would make it much more difficult for asylum seekers to prove their cases, thereby restricting our nation’s core values of refuge and respect for the rights of all human beings.

In the comments submitted, ONA detailed that the proposed rule would negatively impact immigrants and their families in NYS by increasing the amount of information and evidence necessary to complete an application, which may not be even available, making it difficult for asylum applications to satisfy the new screening’s standard of proof. The burden of proof during the screening processes is placed on the non-citizen. Many non-citizens don’t have the resources, understanding, or language skills to navigate what is necessary to meet the higher burden. This proposed rule strips many new Americans from “their day in court,” and make new Americans vulnerable to fatal consequences.

This proposed rule also compounds the already existing fear and confusion the immigrant community has experienced as a result of the Public Charge rule published on August 14, 2019, and other pending and already implemented restrictive changes to immigration policies. The comments submitted today under Governor Cuomo’s leadership underscore New York State’s ongoing commitment to immigrants and asylum seekers, and highlight New York’s continued dedication to the immortal words of Emma Lazarus that adorn our Statue of Liberty:

“. . . Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome . . .”

The New York State Office for New Americans, founded seven years ago, is the nation’s first statutorily created immigrant services office. ONA has a network of legal service providers (ONA Legal Counsels and Liberty Defense Project) and Opportunity Centers across the State that are hosted in community-based organizations that deliver a variety of services and support to New York’s new American communities. These providers are the focal point for communities to embrace immigrants by providing them with the tools necessary to thrive and contribute to our state.

Any immigrant that needs free legal assistance or immigration advise is urged to call the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 (9AM to 8PM (ET), Monday through Friday. All calls are confidential. Assistance is available in over 200 languages.