For Immediate Release


Matt Kovac,, (415) 510-9601

Immigrant Rights Group: New Asylum Rule Puts Thousands of Lives at Risk

Third country” rule will force most asylum seekers to remain in dangerous home countries

WASHINGTON - The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR) condemns the final rule adopted by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security today. The new rule places an additional burden on asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border – including unaccompanied children – by requiring that they first seek protection from a third country en route to the United States.

The rule would bar any asylum applicant who seeks protection at the U.S.-Mexico border without first applying for asylum in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, or Mexico – even though these countries, too, face extraordinary levels of violence. These countries also severely limit immigration: in 2018, the Guatemalan government approved only 20 asylum claims.

“This is just the latest in a steady drumbeat of efforts by this administration to target and strip away the rights of asylum seekers and immigrants more broadly,” said Monika Kalra Varma, LCCR executive director. “While we can feel the terror in our communities with the threat of ICE raids and see the images of the unconscionable detention of children and families by Border Patrol, it is removal of the most basic asylum protections that will have the most egregious impact. Even if this blatantly illegal rule is struck down, so much damage has already been done: thousands of people will remain in danger in their home countries rather than risk being turned away at our border.”


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LCCR’s Asylum Program was founded in 1983 to defend the rights of refugees displaced by the Reagan administration’s “dirty wars” in Central America. Today, the Program’s pro bono attorney network represents asylum seekers from around the world in U.S. immigration courts and asylum offices.

“Many of our clients fled the same countries the Trump administration is now requiring them to seek protection in,” said Flora Pereira, LCCR immigrant justice staff attorney. “It’s just not true that these countries are safe or have immigration systems capable of processing these migrants who are fleeing violence in their home countries. Congress specifically constructed numerous current exceptions to asylum eligibility that are currently in place. The new rule bulldozes through all of that with a sweeping, unlawful bar to asylum that targets Central American migrants who arrive at our southern border.”


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The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law.

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