Opposing the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act

August 22, 2017 The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act (H.R. 391), introduced in the House of Representatives in January, would severely undermine access to asylum in the United States, particularly for individuals fleeing persecution in Central America. In July, CGRS joined more than 70 organizations in denouncing H.R. 391. Read our full letter to the House Judiciary Committee opposing the bill online.

If enacted, H.R. 391 would, among other things:

  • Force asylum applicants and unaccompanied children to be sent to Mexico to seek protection, where an understaffed and flawed asylum system leaves many at risk
  • Raise the expedited removal screening standard to an unduly high level, denying genuine asylum seekers the opportunity to even file an application and resulting in the deportation of individuals with meritorious claims
  • Prevent arriving asylum seekers who have passed the credible fear screening process from being “paroled” (released) from immigration detention, jailing individuals whose only “crime” is fleeing persecution
  • Deny protection to victims of “rogue officials,” excluding refugees targeted by police officers and other government agents acting without official sanction
  • Impose additional standards for individuals seeking protection based on their membership in a particular social group, raising the evidentiary burden for asylum seekers fleeing gender- and gang-based violence
  • Preclude the government from funding legal representation in deportation proceedings, eliminating crucial support for programs that serve asylum seekers who cannot afford attorneys
  • Terminate the asylum status of asylees who return to their home countries for “less than a compelling reason” – a heightened and overly burdensome standard that would jeopardize the safety of asylees who may need to temporarily return to their home countries, for example, to visit a dying parent

In sum, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act would categorically deny protection to and endanger the lives of many legitimate refugees with well-founded fears of persecution, in violation of the United States’ international legal obligations. Stay tuned for how you can voice your opposition to this harmful bill!

Photo from Eric Gay, Associated Press.