On Friday, Dec. 11 the Trump administration will issue a final rule radically restricting the ability of people fleeing persecution to win asylum in the United States. Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School and co-author of a leading 21-volume immigration law series, says though the rule may eventually be struck down in court, many people will be denied asylum in the meantime.

Yale-Loehr says: 

“Among other things, the final rule: 

  • Imposes several new bars to asylum, including one for failing to pay your taxes.
  • Raises the definition of ‘persecution’ to cover only ‘severe’ harms, a higher standard than the previous definition.
  • Redefines membership in a ‘particular social group’ to generally exclude people fleeing persecution because they opposed gangs in their country.
  • Restricts the ability to apply for asylum based on gender. Even women fleeing sex slavery at the hands of ISIS might not qualify for asylum.
  • Revises procedural rules to allow immigration judges to deny asylum applications without a hearing if they lack certain evidence. This will particularly hurt applicants without a lawyer.

“This final rule is an asylum-hater’s dream. It will gut the U.S. asylum system. Effectively, very few people will be able to win asylum.

“The rule is scheduled to take effect in 30 days, just before the inauguration. Courts might eventually strike it down, holding that it violates U.S. and international law. However, litigation takes time. In the meantime, thousands of people will be illegally denied asylum.”