On October 20, 2020, the administration announced additional bars to asylum that create further obstacles for asylum seekers.
The final rule bars from asylum individuals with convictions related to:
- unlawful reentry to the United States;
- alien harboring or smuggling;
- crimes that the adjudicator knows or has reason to believe were related to the activity of a criminal street gang;
- offenses for driving while intoxicated or impaired where such impaired driving was the cause of serious bodily injury or death of another;
- a second or subsequent offense for driving while intoxicated or impaired;
- crimes involving conduct amounting to a crime of stalking, child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment, as well as various domestic violence-related offense; and
- misdemeanor offenses related to the possession or use of false identification, the receipt of a public benefit, or possession of a controlled substance or paraphernalia, other than a single offense involving possession for one’s own use of 30 grams or less of marijuana.
The final rule also bars individuals for whom the adjudicator knows or has reason to believe have engaged in battery or extreme cruelty within the context of domestic violence, regardless of whether they have been convicted or arrested for such a crime.
Furthermore, it creates new definitions of “felony,” “misdemeanor,” “conviction,” and “sentence” for the purpose of the asylum bar. Immigrants convicted of any felony or crime punishable by more than a year in prison will be ineligible for asylum under the rule. Existing regulations prior to the rule had deemed only "aggravated felonies" as sure-fire bars for asylum.
The final rule is effective November 20, 2020. It only applies to asylum applications filed on or after November 20, 2020 and for convictions and acts that occurred or were engaged in on or after November 20, 2020.
Even if a criminal history does not bar an individual from asylum under the previously existing bars or the new final rule, an adjudicator may still rely on the criminal history to deny asylum as a matter of discretion. If barred from asylum, individuals may remain eligible for withholding of removal and Convention Against Torture relief.
Please click here to see a copy of the rule.
If you have any questions about immigration, call Blaszkow Legal today - 703-879-5910!