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The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced publication of a final rule this week aimed at barring certain criminal aliens from claiming asylum in the United States. The rule would go into effect in late November.

Under the proposed rule, aliens convicted of the following crimes would be ineligible for asylum:

  • Alien harboring and smuggling.
  • Convictions of crimes in furtherance of criminal street gangs.
  • Convictions of driving while impaired and causing death or serious bodily harm.
  • Second or subsequent convictions of driving while impaired, regardless of whether it caused death or serious bodily harm.
  • Conviction of a crime that involves conduct amounting to a crime of stalking; or a crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment; or that involves conduct amounting to a domestic assault or battery offense.
  • Any felony conviction at the State, local, or Federal level.

Asylum claims have increased dramatically in recent years, and the backlog of pending asylum cases stood at around 350,000 according to a June 2020 USCIS report. Recent border surges and increases in asylum applications (most of which are ultimately denied) have increased pressure on the federal government to secure the border and protect the public.

In response to this pressure, the Trump Administration has repeatedly requested that Congress make changes to tighten asylum laws to prevent illegal border crossers from using loopholes in the asylum process to stay and work in the U.S. The administration has also implemented policies to deter frivolous asylum claims.

People who claim credible fear and asylum are eligible for work permits pending resolution of their claims. But these claims can take years to work their way through the legal system and has driven recent border surges.

Existing federal law allows the government to expand the bars to asylum eligibility.

Updated: Fri, Nov 6th 2020 @ 9:25am EST