- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Leads Brief in Opposition to Trump Administration Rule that Severely Limits Asylum for Migrants
Boston — Attorney General Maura Healey today co-led a group of 23 attorneys general in opposing a Trump Administration rule that would illegally bar access to the asylum process for thousands of migrants seeking protection in the United States.
The amicus brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit supports a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and argues that the court should uphold a lower court’s issuance of a nationwide preliminary injunction that blocks the new rule, which bars asylum for anyone who travels through another country on their way to the United States unless they have been denied asylum in that country. A September decision from the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the nationwide preliminary injunction pending subsequent proceedings that are currently before the Ninth Circuit.
“The Trump Administration’s repeated attempts to ban refugees from seeking asylum in the United States are cruel, immoral, and illegal,” said AG Healey. “We are filing this brief in opposition to this unlawful attempt by the Administration to close the door of this country to refugees.”
In the brief, the multistate coalition maintains that the rule violates federal law and would inflict unnecessary harm on asylum seekers and the states that welcome them. The attorneys general contend that the countries through which many of these asylum seekers are traveling, Guatemala and Mexico, lack fair and functioning asylum systems. The coalition argues that the rule will only lead to more dangerous and unauthorized border crossings by limiting the legal channels through which migrants can present their asylum claims at the U.S. border.
In August, AG Healey co-led with California a coalition of 20 attorneys general in sending a letter in August to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice urging the Administration to abandon the new rule. The attorneys general argue that the new rule violates longstanding immigration laws that allow any foreign national to apply for asylum upon their arrival in the U.S. These asylum protections have been in place for decades and were built upon the principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which sought to mitigate the horrors visited upon refugees during and after World War II.
The new rule would have a particularly negative effect on unaccompanied children, women, and LGBTQ asylum seekers who will face dangerous conditions while attempting to apply for asylum in countries such as Mexico and Guatemala. These countries are particularly ill-equipped to provide humanitarian protections and process the claims of thousands of migrants seeking asylum. Guatemala, for example, has only 12 officials to work on asylum cases, and three staff members to interview asylum applicants, while Mexico has insufficient access to legal counsel and inaccessible asylum offices located far from the U.S. border. Requesting protection in Mexico and Guatemala would be a “fruitless” endeavor for asylum seekers and would only put them more at risk of harm due to prolonged detention in poor conditions or victimization by criminal groups that target migrants.
AG Healey has led a number of efforts against the Trump Administration’s illegal and unconstitutional immigration policies, including challenging programs that provide protection for hundreds of thousands of long-term residents of the United States. In July 2019, AG Healey co-led a coalition of 20 attorneys general on a brief urging protections for children held in inhumane conditions at the border. In February 2019, AG Healey joined 19 attorneys general in filing a brief challenging the Trump Administration’s “turnback policy,” which effectively halted the asylum process at the southern border for thousands of people waiting to present their claims. In June 2018, AG Healey co-led a coalition of 18 states in suing the Trump Administration over its illegal policy of forcibly separating families at the southern border. AG Healey has also joined amicus briefs in opposition to Administration policies that required asylum-seekers to present their claims at a port of entry and that blocked asylum claims based on gang and domestic violence.
AG Healey co-led today’s filing with the attorney general from California, and was joined by Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General David Kravitz of the AG’s Office of the State Solicitor and Abigail Taylor of the AG’s Civil Rights Division.