Hawai‘i AG Opposed to Rule Restricting Asylum Access

October 17, 2019, 6:31 AM HST · Updated October 17, 6:31 AM
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Hawaiʻi Attorney General Clare E. Connors joined a multistate coalition, led by California and Massachusetts, in opposition to the Trump Administration’s rule limiting access to the asylum process.

Under the rule, individuals entering the US at the southern border, except in limited circumstances, are no longer able to seek asylum unless they applied for and were denied protection in at least one country they transited through prior to their arrival.

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 US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold the district court’s ruling on the preliminary injunction.

“The rule was issued in violation of existing laws and harms those lawfully seeking refuge,” said Attorney General Connors. “Hawaiʻi’s history and culture is tied to immigration, and these rules would disproportionately harm children, women, and LGBTQ asylum applicants.”

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In the brief, the coalition maintains that the rule significantly departs from core values enshrined in federal law and alleges harm to asylum-seekers and the states that welcome them.

“The rule forces asylum-seekers to go through what could amount to a fruitless asylum process in a potentially dangerous third country to even have a chance of being eligible for asylum in the United States. This unnecessarily subjects asylum-seekers to peril and trauma throughout the process and could encourage people to attempt risky journeys to enter the United States undetected in an effort to flee persecution,” according to the coalition.

“Moreover, the rule will have a particularly negative effect on unaccompanied children, LGBTQ applicants, and women asylum-seekers, for whom applying for asylum in a third country is extremely perilous. For example, two-thirds of LGBTQ Central American asylum-seekers reportedly suffered sexual violence while transiting through Mexico and, in Guatemala, children are frequently targets of recruitment by criminal gangs,” the coalition said.

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

In a September decision, the US Supreme Court stayed a nationwide preliminary injunction pending subsequent proceedings that are currently before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

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