Attorneys general fight Trump’s efforts to undermine
asylum protections for Caribbean immigrants
By Nelson A. King
A coalition of 19 attorneys
general from around the United
States has challenged the Trump
Administration’s efforts to potentially
undermine asylum protections
for thousands of Caribbean
and other immigrants.
In an amicus brief supporting
the plaintiffs in U.T. v. Barr, the
coalition pushed back against
an interim final rule in which
it said the Trump Administration
is “effectively ignoring asylum
claims by sending people
— many of whom are fleeing
violence and persecution — to
third countries that have signed
asylum cooperative agreements
with the federal government.”
“Not only does the rule harm
asylum-seekers, but it deprives
states of the valuable economic
contributions made by immigrants
— including asylees and
asylum-seekers — who join
workforces across the country,
start entrepreneurial ventures,
and pay millions of dollars in
taxes each year,” said the coalition
in a statement.
New York Attorney General,
Letitia James, who is leading the
coalition fight, said “the president
and his administration are once
again showing their lack of compassion
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Caribbean L 8 ife, April 10-16, 2020
and humanity by endangering
the safety of asylum-seekers
fleeing for their lives.
“Instead of making it harder
for immigrants to flee persecution,
danger, and great peril, the
administration should be welcoming
these individuals, who
provide extraordinary contributions
to America’s culture and
economy,” she said. “Our coalition
will continue fighting for
these asylum-seekers and the
founding principles of our nation
which have always welcomed
In the amicus brief filed with
the US District Court for the
District of Columbia, the coalition
highlighted the “irreparable
harms” the rule will have on
states and asylum-seekers.
“In particular, the rule threatens
the states’ economies, undermines
state-funded legal service
programs and contravenes the
states’ interests in keeping families
together,” said the coalition,
stating that “welcomes thousands
of asylum-seekers each
year, adding that “the rule directly
threatens these individuals by
forcing them into dangerous circumstances
in third countries
that are not equipped to handle
The amicus brief is just the
most recent in a number of
actions James said she has taken
to safeguard asylum protections
for Caribbean and other immigrants.
Last month, James fought
back against a similar Trump
Administration rule that will bar
tens of thousands of people from
asylum if they do not apply in a
third country while en route to
the United States.
In an amicus brief — filed
in support of the plaintiffs in Al
Otro Lada, et al. v. Wolf —James
and a coalition of 20 additional
attorneys general argued in support
of asylum-seekers who have
already been trapped at the border
for months due to what they
described as “other unlawful policies
of the administration” that
they have also opposed.
Additionally, in October 2019,
James fought back against another
illegal rule that similarly limits
Caribbean and other immigrants’
access to the asylum process.
Under the rule, individuals
entering the United States at
the southern border — except in
limited circumstances — would
no longer be able to seek asylum
unless they apply for and are
denied protection in at least one
country they transited through
prior to their arrival at the US
Public Advocate Letitia James. Photo by Cate Dingley
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