New Asylum Policy Prevents Vulnerable Children and Families from Seeking Protection

In July, the administration published a rule that effectively ends asylum protections for the majority of migrants, including unaccompanied children. The rule, also known as “Asylum Ban 2.0,” denies access to asylum to anyone who has traveled through any other country unless they have asked for and been denied asylum in that country. (There is also an exception for people who have been victims of human trafficking.) If implemented, the rule would apply to unaccompanied children who have traveled on their own.

The rule is not limited to children from Central America but would apply to asylum seekers from all over the world, many of whom come to the U.S. through Mexico or Guatemala. Here’s the thing. Neither of those countries is safe for asylum-seekers.

For decades, anyone who came to our borders seeking protection from war, violence, or persecution has been given a chance to make their case for asylum. Our laws provided a safe haven to children from around the world whether they were fleeing armed conflict, domestic violence, or other life-threatening conditions. After a rigorous process that examined the claims of children and adults alike, those with valid claims were granted asylum.

For the last two years, the administration has been chipping away at this process claiming that those seeking asylum, including children, are gaming the system. This new asylum ban is another attempt to deter migration and deny protection to some of the most vulnerable people in the world. 

Within a day of the rule’s publication, civil rights organizations filed lawsuits seeking to prevent its implementation. However, a federal appeals court has allowed the ban to go into effect in New Mexico and Texas, 74% of the U.S.-Mexico border. The administration has announced its intent to start applying the rule in those states, meaning that many, including children, will no longer have access to asylum at these parts of the border. 

This rule harms immigrant children who are escaping unthinkable atrocities. Children like Alan, who fled his West African home country after facing persecution and violence for belonging to a minority tribe. By the age of 14, he had been physically attacked by members of the majority tribe multiple times. He was also captured and tortured for two days and warned against going to the authorities. After coming to the U.S.-Mexico border seeking protection, he was taken into custody. The Young Center assigned a Child Advocate. After months of advocacy he was granted asylum. Had the rule been in effect, Alan would have been denied the right to apply for asylum.

On Thursday, August 15, 2019, the Young Center filed a public comment, joining more than 1640 organizations and individuals to urge the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to rescind this interim rule and prevent further harm and trauma to immigrant families and children seeking protection. Read our comment here.

We cannot turn our back on children like Alan who are asking for protection. Seeking asylum is a human right. 

Please join us and support our advocacy for the human rights of immigrant children. 

Maddie Witters