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Trump administration slams door on LGBT+ asylum seekers with ‘impossible’ plan to let judges reject

By Nick Duffy


The Trump administration has put forward a new immigration rule that would allow judges to dismiss applications from LGBT+ asylum seekers without even hearing their case.


The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have proposed revised rules for immigration cases which would drastically narrow the eligibility of people who have faced persecution to claim asylum.


The rules would also allow immigration judges to reject asylum applications deemed “frivolous” without even holding a hearing or allowing the asylum seekers to plead their cases.

Vox and Newsweek report that one of the most drastic impacts of the changes could be for people who have fled persecution, including LGBT+ asylum seekers. Existing rules for people claiming asylum after fleeing persecution require them to undergo an initial “credible fear” screening to assess the claims they make, before having to defend their claim in immigration court.


But under the proposed changes, people would be required to have proof that they face a “reasonable possibility of persecution” in their initial asylum interview — making the process much harder to access.


People applying for asylum due to gender-based violence, including LGBT+ asylum seekers, would also have to be able to prove that there has been a direct failure of their government to intervene in their case — an impossibly high threshold to meet.


Presumptive Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has vowed to unpick the changes to the asylum system pushed through under Donald Trump, and instil new protections for LGBT+ asylum seekers.


His LGBT+ policy plan states: “The Statue of Liberty has long been a beacon to people ‘yearning to breathe free’ around the world — including to asylum-seekers and refugees.


“But the Trump-Pence administration has undermined this tradition by severely limiting the ability of members of the LGBTQ+ community, an especially vulnerable group in many parts of the world, from qualifying for asylum as members of a ‘particular social group.’ The Trump-Pence administration has also instituted migrant protection protocols, preventing individuals from entering the US while awaiting their asylum hearing.


“As president, Biden will ensure asylum laws protect people fleeing persecution. Biden will end Trump’s migrant protection protocols and restore our asylum laws so that they do what they should be designed to do — protect people fleeing persecution and who cannot return home safely.


“He will make sure LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers have access to necessary services and protections. And, he’ll ensure federal agencies are trained to identify and respond to the particular needs of LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers, including by expediting services for LGBTQ+ people who may be targeted by violence or are under threat in their home countries.”

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