A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Friday, December 20, 2019

Seven Additional Bars to Asylum Proposed

USCIS and EOIR jointly proposed a new rule to add seven mandatory bars to asylum eligibility on December 19, 2019. (84 FR 69640, 12/19/19)  Under this rule, an asylum seeker will be barred from obtaining political asylum if he / she is convicted of:

(1) Any felony under federal or state law;

(2) Alien smuggling or harboring [8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A) or § 1324(a)(1)(2)] ;

(3) Illegal reentry to the U.S. after removal under 8 U.S.C. § 1326;

(4) A federal, state, tribal, or local crime involving criminal street gang activity;

(5) A DUI/DWI offense under federal, state, tribal, or local law; 

(6) A domestic violence offense under federal, state, tribal, or local domestic violence law (or has been found to have committed acts of domestic violence);

(7) Misdemeanor offenses under federal or state law related to false identification; the unlawful receipt of public benefits from a federal, state, tribal, or local entity; or the possession or trafficking of a controlled substance or controlled-substance paraphernalia.

Under the new proposed rule, a vacated, expunged, or modified conviction or sentence would still be recognized for purposes of determining whether an individual is eligible for asylum, unless the applicant can establish that the change was not for immigration or rehabilitative purposes.

The proposed rule would also remove the automatic review of a discretionary denial of an alien’s asylum application. The current regulation mandates that denial of asylum must be reconsidered
if the denial is solely based on exercise of discretion, and the applicant is subsequently granted withholding of deportation or removal.

These changes would severely limit foreigners' ability to obtain asylum in the United States.  

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