Recently, the U.S. government proposed several changes to the asylum system — some good, and some bad. On October 19, 2021, ASAP responded to the government’s proposal, basing our response on ideas that members shared about how to improve the asylum process.
Thank you to each member who shared your ideas with us! As asylum seekers, you are the experts on the asylum system. We hope that the government will take your ideas seriously. We also hope that government officials will meet with asylum seekers directly before making final decisions about the asylum system.
What are the proposed changes?
The government shared more than 100 pages of proposed changes to the asylum system. Some of the proposed changes could have positive effects, like being able to receive a work permit sooner. Some changes could have negative effects, like making it harder to submit some evidence in immigration court. And for some changes, it is not clear what the effects might be. You can read more about the proposed changes here.
Are these changes final?
No! The government proposed these changes through a process called “rulemaking.” In rulemaking, the government has to first share a proposal for the changes they want to make, then get feedback from the public, and then respond to the feedback. They have to do all this before any changes can become final law.
How did ASAP respond to the government’s proposed changes?
ASAP’s staff reviewed 34,000 members’ ideas for how to improve the asylum process, and we responded to the government’s proposal based on members’ priorities.
Specifically, ASAP told the government that they should:
- Have meetings with asylum seekers before making any decisions about how to change the asylum system.
- End policies that make it difficult to seek asylum at the Mexico-U.S. border.
- Make the asylum process more efficient, accessible, and humane.
- Allow asylum seekers to access work permits as quickly as possible after entering the United States.
- Allow people to apply for work permits based on receiving parole.
- Clarify proposals that are currently unclear.
You can also read more in the full document that ASAP’s lawyers submitted.
Here are a few quotes from ASAP members that were included in the comment:
- “I believe it should not take so much time to receive a work permit. Making a person wait for so long without the possibility of working legally allows the rate of illegal jobs to increase.” -ASAP member from Venezuela
- “I would change the wait for my case to be processed, and the inability to work legally to pay for healthcare, rent, and food while I wait to be processed.” -ASAP member from Hong Kong
- “Mistakes made by USCIS (not made by the asylum seeker) should not affect or slow down the asylum process. For example, if you receive your biometrics appointment notice after the date the appointment was scheduled for. USCIS stopped our EAD clock even though we provided evidence that the letter was delivered after the date the appointment was scheduled for.” -ASAP member from Kazakhstan
- “The asylum interview asks for people to provide very specific details, dates, times, etc. Most asylum seekers have suffered trauma, and the mind blocks out details just so you can survive. We can’t remember all of this information in just a flash. Asylum officers need to be trained in trauma-informed interviewing, and trauma looks different in different people.” -ASAP member from Rwanda
Thank you to every ASAP member who shared your ideas about how to change the asylum process. ASAP will continue to use members’ ideas to advocate for change. Thank you for being part of the ASAP community!