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AG Nessel and Multistate Coalition Urge Federal Government to Ensure Robust Access to Asylum

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 12 attorneys general in a comment letter urging the federal government, as part of its current rulemaking process, to ensure robust access to asylum. While the coalition supports the federal government’s efforts to better ensure lawful, safe, and orderly mechanisms for migrants to seek safety in the United States, the current proposed rule is inconsistent with key aspects of the Immigration and Nationality Act and could potentially harm already vulnerable asylum seekers and the states that welcome them. In the comment letter, the coalition urges the federal government to continue to explore commonsense solutions to both protect access to asylum and to ensure a more efficient and orderly process. 

“Making the asylum process more difficult is not how we should be treating refugees arriving on our borders,” Nessel said. “Those who flee violent or oppressive nations are trying to arrive in a safe place as expeditiously as possible. Their eligibility for asylum should not be dependent on the routes they take to achieve that safety. Asylees can be successfully integrated into our state workforces and can make significant contributions to businesses during this time of labor shortages. They should not face increased barriers in trying to do so. In 2022 alone, Michigan was one of the top four states in refugees resettled nationwide after California, Texas, and New York. I stand firmly with my colleagues in asking DOJ and DHS to preserve the right-to-asylum provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” 

Under the current proposed rule, the federal government, in light of an anticipated increase in asylum claims at the border when Title 42 is set to be lifted on May 11, 2023, would largely require migrants to follow the rules' specified pathways in order to secure protection in the United States. As part of the proposal, the federal government is currently set to put more restrictive standards in place for those seeking asylum. For instance, individuals entering the United States at the southern border, except in limited circumstances, would be presumptively ineligible for asylum unless they applied for and were denied protection in at least one country that they transited through prior to their arrival, or used the Customs and Border Patrol online application to make an appointment to present themselves to immigration officials. In the comment letter, the coalition urges the federal government to reconsider aspects of the proposed presumption of ineligibility in order to avoid, or at least mitigate, any potential harms to asylum seekers and the states that welcome them. 

In the comment letter, the coalition notes: 

  • Provisions of the current proposal conflict with the more expansive protections guaranteed under the Immigration and Nationality Act; 
  • If asylum is improperly restricted, it will limit the ability of asylum seekers to integrate into state workforces and potentially strain state-funded services; and
  • The proposed rule would unfairly harm many asylum seekers, particularly those with fewer resources. 

In filing the comment letter, AG Nessel is joined by the attorneys general of California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. 

A copy of the comment letter is available here


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