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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Attorney General Donovan Files Brief Opposing Rule to Turn Away Asylum Seekers

October 16, 2019

Contact: Julio A. Thompson, Director, Civil Rights Unit, 802-828-3171

Attorney General Donovan yesterday joined a multistate coalition challenging a Trump Administration rule aimed at turning away individuals seeking asylum from Central and South America. Under the rule, many individuals seeking asylum at the southern border would be turned away unless they could prove they applied for, and were denied, asylum in at least one country they traveled through prior to their arrival in the U.S. In an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union in East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Barr, the attorneys general urge the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold the district court’s decision to enter a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the rule.

“Providing refuge to those fleeing danger is a time-honored American value,” said Attorney General Donovan. “Children and families deserve a fair chance to seek asylum under the laws Congress has enacted. The administration cannot use the rulemaking process to strip away those rights and place people in danger.”

The amicus brief argues the new rule unlawfully departs from core values enshrined in federal law and harms asylum seekers and the states that welcome them. Under the rule, many individuals seeking asylum in the U.S. would first have to go through an unsuccessful effort to seek asylum while living in potentially unsafe areas before entering the U.S. This unnecessarily exposes asylum seekers to danger throughout the process and could encourage those fleeing persecution to attempt risky journeys to enter the U.S. undetected. Moreover, the rule will have a negative effect on unaccompanied children, LGBTQ+ and women asylum seekers, for whom applying for asylum in a third country is extremely dangerous.  Finally, in declaring the rule, the Trump Administration failed to provide adequate notice, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Donovan joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the brief is available here. In a September decision, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed a nationwide preliminary injunction pending subsequent proceedings that are currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Last modified: October 16, 2019