Interfaith community comes out in force against the administration’s proposal to end asylum

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — The administration's efforts to effectively end asylum have been met with a massive outpouring of opposition from the public, particularly the interfaith community. The public comment period closed on July 15, with over 79,000 comments recorded. The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC, gathered nearly 10,000 public comments from faith voices.

“The administration’s attempt to end asylum in the middle of a pandemic shows their infinite cruelty,” said Anna Gallagher, CLINIC’s executive director. “At a time when our shared humanity and need to help one another is undeniable, our country’s leaders are spending resources on a proposal to condemn even more people to suffering and death. Thousands of members of the interfaith community showed up in force to oppose the proposed rule. They made clear they will not accept a society that locks the door on the world’s most vulnerable. ”

The administration only provided 30 days for the public to respond to its 161-page proposal to end asylum, despite requests from more than 500 organizations for at least a 60-day period — the typical amount of time. “The short comment period for such a lengthy and complex proposed regulation is proof of the administration’s intention to carry out its immoral plan as quickly as possible,” said Victoria Neilson, managing attorney of CLINIC’s Defending Vulnerable Populations Program. “We strongly question whether they will review and consider the responses from experts, people of faith and advocates working on the ground with experience on how asylum truly must work to protect and save lives.” 

In its organizational comment, CLINIC wrote: 

“Until recently, the United States was seen around the world as a beacon of hope for those fleeing harm. [...] CLINIC’s Board member, Bishop Mark Seitz recently published an op-ed reminding us: ‘Faith and hope tell us that the machinery of darkness which our immigration enforcement has become is not permanent. Faith teaches us that there will be a day when all of this pain will be no more, when walls of hatred come tumbling down and when grace transforms the dark present into something better. This darkness is ours to undo.’ […] If published in their current form, these proposed regulations would essentially end asylum. CLINIC implores the Departments to ‘to end the darkness’ and withdraw this proposed rulemaking in its entirety.”

CLINIC will continue to organize side-by-side with those who are directly affected, the interfaith community and others in the fight to save asylum. CLINIC expects that this proposal, which flies in the face of U.S. and international law, will be challenged in the courts and calls on Congress to take action to protect the right to seek asylum.