By Rev. Kathleen McTigue on July 8, 2020
In the spring of 2018, my husband and I decided to answer the call to sponsor an asylum-seeker, and a few months later we welcomed Marbella into our home. Her identity as a transgender woman had made her the target of repeated violence in her home country of Honduras – one of the deadliest places on the planet for LGBTQ+ people – and for most of her 23 years before her arrival, she had been looking for the basic safety that so many of us can take for granted. More than two years after our first meeting, Marbella is deeply integrated into the fabric of our family and our lives, as her asylum case slowly moves through the legal system.
But now, after all of her years of struggle and hope, Marbella may find an insurmountable roadblock in her path. On top of all the other ways that immigrant rights have been attacked, the Trump administration is proposing new rules that would effectively end asylum once and for all. Flouting international human rights accords that our nation once championed, the new rule carries literal life or death impact for some of the most vulnerable people in the world.
Among other things, the proposed rules would allow judges to deny asylum before a migrant has any chance to make a case in court. New standards for what would count as a “credible fear” of danger or persecution will make it virtually impossible for any migrant to qualify. Asylum adjudicators would be given near-total discretion to deny asylum applications outright. And gender-based or gang-related violence will no longer be permitted as reasons to grant asylum, no matter how well documented they may be.
Marbella, and hundreds of thousands of people like her, would lose their struggle for the most basic of human rights: the right to live free from the threat of violence and death.
There is something we can do to fight back against these cruel and unethical rules changes – but we have to act now. Until the deadline of Wednesday, July 15, any individual can submit a public comment, both electronically and via letters. This is important not only for registering our dissent, but because it has a real chance of slowing the process long enough for legal challenges to halt it. You can learn more about the proposed rule and submit a comment through our online action page. Please join UUSC in taking this simple, important action before July 15.
About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!
Photo Credit: iStock – vichinterlang