San Francisco, CA — The Trump Administration announced proposed changes to asylum rules that will drastically limit asylum seekers’ ability to remain in the United States. The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security’s 161 page proposal redefines asylum and creates new standards, making it more difficult to win asylum cases, which already face heavy scrutiny. 

Asylum grants legal protection to individuals who come to the United States and are unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin or nationality due to a well-founded fear of prosecution or persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Once granted, asylum seekers may remain in the United States, with work authorization. On average, Chinese nationals account for roughly a quarter of the total number of asylum cases granted each year. 

“The Trump administration’s latest attacks on asylum is consistent with his cruel, xenophobic, and white nationalist stance towards immigrants. The fee requirement is immoral and inhumane. Refugees who are fleeing war and violence have already traversed unimaginable hardships and should not have to face additional barriers to be granted safety. The proposed changes would dim the light on “liberty and justice for all”, and undermine our values as a nation.” said Hong Mei Pang, CAA’s Advocacy Director. 

Some of the more alarming pieces of the proposal include stiffening definitions for the various qualifying bases for asylum, for example redefining “membership in a particular social group” which would effectively eliminate gender-based asylum claims closing the door for women fleeing gender-based violence. Additionally, the proposal contains a “Third Country Transit Ban”, where asylum seekers who have travelled through a third country en route to the US would face greater scrutiny.  The newly proposed rules are criticized and strongly opposed by non-profit legal services providers, immigrant rights, and civil rights groups, who intend to challenge the rules in court. 

“The proposed changes to the asylum rules are not exceptional to other immigration policies under the Trump administration. While API Immigrants were scapegoated for the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, the administration has used it as a pretext to shut down immigration,” states Jose Ng, CAA’s Immigrant Rights Program Manager. 

The new rules, published in the Federal Register on Monday June 15, 2020, will be open for 30 days of public comment, until July 15, 2020. CAA encourages community members to voice their concerns, and denounce the proposed asylum rule changes by providing public comment through the Federal Register online portal. Community members are encouraged to contact CAA’s Immigrant Rights program at 415.761.3222 for general inquiries and immigration legal 



Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) is a community-based civil rights organization in San Francisco. Our mission is to protect the civil and political rights of Chinese Americans and to advance multiracial democracy in the United States. We advocate for systemic change that protects immigrant rights, promotes language diversity, and remedies racial injustice.