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Attorney General James Fights Unlawful and Immoral Block of Asylum Seekers 

NEW YORK – Attorney General Letitia James joined a multi-state coalition in opposing the Trump Administration’s attempt to illegally limit immigrants’ access to the asylum process.

Under the rule, individuals entering the United States at the southern border, except in limited circumstances, are no longer able to seek asylum unless they applied for and were denied protection in at least one country they traveled through prior to their arrival. In a comment letter filed, the coalition urges the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to rescind the policy.

“The Trump Administration has been relentless in its efforts to deny refuge to those who need it most,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, in a news release. “Turning children and families away from our border is literally a matter of life or death for these individuals who are fleeing danger. America has always stood as a beacon of hope and we will continue to fight back against these disgraceful and inhumane policies.”

In the comment letter, the coalition maintains that, among other things, the rule violates both the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the Administrative Procedure Act. Under the INA, any foreign national may apply for asylum upon their presence or arrival to the United States. These asylum protections were built on the principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which sought to mitigate some of the horrors visited upon refugees during and after World War II. The INA sets forth very specific circumstances under which an individual can be barred from asylum, and provides protection for, particularly vulnerable groups. In promulgating the rule, the Trump administration failed to provide adequate notice or articulate a reasoned explanation, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Additionally, James states the rule will have a particularly negative effect on unaccompanied children, LGBTQ applicants, and women asylum-seekers, for whom applying for asylum in a third country is extremely dangerous. In fact, recognizing the rule is likely contrary to law and a federal court has already halted its initial implementation.

James joined the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.