Trump is Using COVID-19 to Ban Asylum-Seekers: Speak Out in Opposition!

August 3, 2020 | Texas

“2018/11/23 Ten days old Asylum Seekers arrives in Tijuana, Mexico” by Daniel Arauz is licensed under CC BY 2.0

While the president openly ignores the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic, he uses this public health crisis at his convenience to restrict immigration. Through the latest proposed rule, the administration would ban asylum-seekers who are from (or passed through) any country where COVID-19 is common – conveniently ignoring the fact that the United States has the most COVID-19 cases worldwide. Luckily, you can oppose this proposed rule by writing a public comment in opposition, as public comments are a great way to delay the proposed rule from being finalized! We have provided an explanation of what this rule would do, as well as bullet point suggestions that you can include in your own writing.  


If the government finalizes this rule, it could: 

  1. Consider asylum-seekers who have been exposed to COVID-19 a national security threat. This is a title usually reserved for defense or economic threats, not for those escaping torture and persecution.
  2. Allow the administration to extend the ban to other diseases to continue blocking asylum-seekers in the future.
  3. Remove most protections for asylum seekers, leaving them only with CAT (Convention Against Torture) protection. Asylum-seekers would have to prove that they are more likely to be tortured in their country of origin than not – an extremely high bar to meet.
  4. The proposed rule would even apply to asylum-seekers who contracted the disease (or even exhibit symptoms) within the United States. This is particularly cruel to those in detention who have contracted the disease due to US negligence. The United States has put them in danger, yet they would be labeled the national security threat.
  5. Prevent public health professionals, among others, who have come into contact with COVID-19 from seeking asylum. This rule would directly punish those who have risked their lives to combat the disease.


To call the administration out on their hypocrisy and help protect asylum-seekers, you can take action by submitting a public comment. The administration must read and respond to every unique comment, so your words will help delay the passing of this dangerous rule. You have until August 10th to submit a comment online to tell the Trump Administration that you oppose this unnecessary and immoral rule. Together, we can use our voices to support those fleeing danger and torture as they seek safety for themselves and their children. 


What Do I Write in a Public Comment?


While you can write anything you like in your public comment, we have written some suggestions. You can use these talking points when writing your public comment:


  • While Americans are struggling and suffering due to COVID-19, the Trump administration is instead focused on using this pandemic to keep vulnerable asylum-seekers out of the country.   


  • Immigrants, including asylum-seekers, are on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19. This rule would impact Americans’ safety by depriving the country of the expertise and service immigrants bring to the table.


  • Immigration law already includes limits based on public health. This rule is cruel and unnecessary, all it would do is add one more lock to a dead bolted door. 


  • The proposed rule would directly contradict public health professionals, as many have made it clear that barring asylum seekers does not protect the United States from COVID-19. 


  • The proposed rule would not require that asylum-seekers be tested for COVID-19 before barring them from asylum. This rule would simply assume that they have COVID-19 based on the countries they have passed through or come from. 


If you want to dig a little deeper when writing your public comment, look at these detailed resources:


  • Read this Just Security analysis of the proposed rule, which includes the perspectives of national public health professionals. 
  • This Human Rights First article describes some of the possible effects of this harmful rule. 
  • This Immigration Impact article that describes how this proposed rule would ignore precedent by naming communicable diseases a national security threat.