Maui News

Hawai‘i AG Joins Multistate Effort to Protect Rights of Asylum-Seekers

December 20, 2019, 10:20 AM HST
* Updated December 20, 10:35 AM
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Clare Connors

Hawaiʻi Attorney General Clare E. Connors joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general, led by California, in filing a comment letter to protect the rights of asylum-seekers.

Under a new interim final rule, asylum-seeks will be sent to third countries that have signed asylum cooperative agreements with the federal government.

“Immigrants are an important part of our community and make significant contributions to the state economy,” said Attorney General Connors. “We join our fellow states in opposing yet another federal policy that will needlessly harm individuals and families who are already vulnerable.”

The coalition says that giving asylum-seekers a safe haven from persecution “is an essential value of the United States.”

Currently, Guatemala is the only country where an asylum cooperative agreement is officially in effect. However, the coalition claims Guatemala has insufficient staff to handle humanitarian claims.

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The federal government has also announced agreements with Honduras and El Salvador and under the interim final rule this process could apply to those countries and any other country other than Canada that signs an asylum cooperative agreement with the United States.

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The coalition claims that the rule “provides no safeguards against family separation,” since it has no requirement that families who arrived together in the United States be removed to the same country.

In submitting the comment letter, Attorney General Connors joins the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the comment letter is available here.

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