On October 20, 2020, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security announced a new rule that bars certain immigrants from obtaining asylum. This rule will prevent certain immigrants from obtaining asylum based on their criminal history.
Immigrants who are convicted of the following crimes will be barred from receiving asylum: any federal or state felony, alien smuggling, illegal reentry, gang activity, DUIs, drug crimes, domestic violence and offenses relating to false identification. The rule also bars immigrants who were merely charged in domestic violence offenses even if no conviction was made. If an immigrant’s criminal history falls into one of those categories, the immigrant is no longer eligible for asylum. They remain eligible for withholding of removal, a much higher burden and a much harder case.
Most individual commenters and all organizations, including non-government organizations, legal advocacy groups, non-profit organizations, religious organizations, congressional committees, and groups of members of Congress, opposed this rule. This rule has already been challenged in federal court, specifically in the Northern District of California. In time, other challenges may also be filed in other federal courts. However, as of now, this rule goes into effect on November 20, 2020.