RELEASE: Following AG Sessions’ Announcement to Further Limit Protection for Central Americans, CAP Brief Breaks Down How the Trump Administration Is Undoing the U.S. Asylum Process

Washington, D.C. —The Trump administration is dismantling national and international norms to make it harder for refugees to apply for and receive asylum protections, says a new CAP brief. Even though international and U.S. law guarantee the right of individuals escaping persecution to request protection, the administration is bypassing Congress to drastically reshape the asylum process.

Coming the same week in which we learned that a Honduran father, Marco Antonio Muñoz, committed suicide after being forcibly separated from his family, and just days after the attorney general announced a change in asylum law to severely limit access to protection, this brief details some of the major challenges that asylum-seekers may confront as they navigate the U.S. immigration system under the Trump administration.

The brief focuses first on the administration’s stricter eligibility standards for establishing fear in the application process, before exploring asylum-seekers’ increased detention periods and decreased opportunity to make their case before immigration courts that are prioritizing speed over due process. Finally, the brief looks at how these policies are tearing immigrant families apart and considers what’s next for asylum seekers in the Trump era.

“The administration is sidestepping Congress to radically limit the ability of all asylum seekers to get a fair shot at receiving protection,” said Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Make no mistake, the end result of these changes is that the United States will increasingly return people to face persecution, torture, and death abroad. But to an administration that has been relentless in its attacks on immigrants and refugees, undoing the U.S. asylum process is just one piece of a much larger puzzle.”

The administration’s actions will affect asylum-seekers coming to the United States for years to come. A better approach that is consistent with U.S. laws and values, the brief concludes, would be for the administration to respect international and national norms to usher in a more humanitarian approach to asylum. Such an approach would also help keep families together—and give persecuted and vulnerable populations a fair shot in court.
Read Asylum in the Trump Era: The Quiet Dismantling of National and International Norms by Anneliese Hermann.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Rafael J. Medina at rjmedina@americanprogress.org or 202.748.5313.