DeGette calls on Trump administration to withdraw changes to asylum rules

Jul 15, 2020
Press Release
Shares personal stories from dozens of Denver-area immigrants

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) today called on the Trump administration to withdraw its proposed changes to the nation’s asylum system that would effectively bar most immigrants from obtaining asylum in the U.S. going forward. 

In a letter to Assistant Director Lauren Reid, of the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review, DeGette said the proposed changes would “irreparably damage the asylum process in the United States, making it nearly impossible for anyone to seek asylum.”

“The United States has a tradition of assisting asylum seekers and refugees who cannot remain in their home countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution,” DeGette wrote. “We must show compassion for all of those around the world who are impacted by ongoing conflicts and violence, as our ancestors once did.”

The Trump administration’s proposed changes would place new restrictions on those seeking asylum in the U.S. and, among other things, deny protection to anyone who has passed through two or more different countries before arriving to the United States.

“These proposed changes, among others, place an unreasonable burden on asylum seekers creating an unfair process and are in direct contrast with the Congressional intent of the Refugee Act of 1980,” DeGette wrote.

In urging the administration to abandon its latest effort to close America’s doors to those fleeing for safety, DeGette attached to the letter dozens of personal stories she has gathered from immigrants living in the Denver area.

“It is my hope,” DeGette wrote, “that you will read the testimony of my community members and see how important it is for our nation to continue to be a place open to those seeking a better, safer life as they become part of the fabric that makes our nation so strong.” 

Among the stories DeGette included was one from Samiya Azizi, who fled Afghanistan in 2002 and is now living in Denver.

“I came to the United States from Afghanistan seeking asylum in 2002,” Azizi wrote in her letter shared by DeGette. “I was born in a warzone, spent most of my formative years in a warzone, lost almost everyone in my family to the on-going wars as collateral damage, and eventually ran away from home to save my own life. What you have to understand is that no one would seek asylum if it didn’t mean a chance at a better life. No one would voluntarily leave their homes at the risk of never finding home again, if it wasn’t to save their lives.”

A copy of DeGette’s letter opposing the administration’s changes, including testimonials from dozens of local Denver residents, is available here