Joint NGO Letter Re: Additional Delay in Rescinding Public Health Asylum Ban Rule

RE: Security Bars and Processing, DHS Docket No. USCIS 2020-0013  

The 121 undersigned faith-based groups, national and local legal services providers, medical and public health experts, refugee, human, and civil rights organizations, urge the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice (collectively the “Departments”) to rescind in its entirety the “Security Bars and Processing” rule issued by the prior administration in December 2020. This rule would bar refugees from asylum protection in the United States based on specious public health grounds that have been repeatedly discredited by public health and medical experts. It is far past time for the Departments to rescind this unjustifiable, illegal, and harmful rule. 

Since President Biden took office, the Departments have repeatedly paused implementation of the rule. Most recently, the Departments delayed the rule’s effective date to December 31, 2024, attributing the delay to ongoing litigation against a related regulation and the intervening asylum processing rule, and noting that the Departments plan to “issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to modify or rescind the Security Bars rule in the near future.” The Departments now request comment on this delay. Allowing the rule to remain in U.S. regulations rather than promptly rescinding it lends credence to and risks advancing the Trump administration’s and its allies’ long-standing agenda to exploit and misuse public health to ban and block refugees, mislabel migrants and asylum seekers as threats, and perpetuate xenophobic, racist tropes painting  migrants and refugees as threats to public health. Scheduling the rule to take effect at the end of 2024 creates a serious risk that, absent prompt rescission of the rule by the Biden administration, it will be wielded to ban and block refugees by a subsequent administration.  

Ample time to study the legality of this baseless ban and the impact it would have on asylum seekers has long elapsed, as many of our organizations warned a year ago when the Departments last delayed implementation. There is no need for additional delay. The administration can and must swiftly and completely rescind the rule. 

Published on February 27, 2023


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