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The COVID-19 pandemic in America is Being Used to Target asylum seekers by President Trump

COVID-19 has caused a public health crisis in America unlike we have ever seen before.

President Trump is using the COVID-19 pandemic to target asylum seekers and achieve an

overall policy objective to limit all types of immigration. Asylum applicants are being barred

from entering the United States if they pose a risk of transmitting diseases upon entering the

country. Since March, very few asylum seekers have been allowed into the United States.

President Trump communicated that he cares for the security and health of U.S. citizens.

Barring the entry of all asylum seekers is illegal under U.S. law. Trump is using the pandemic as

a scapegoat, claiming that the rule is needed to prevent the spread of COID-19 is another

approach from President Trump’s to target vulnerable immigrants and to score political points

as the presidential election nears. In reality, the countries from which asylum seekers are

coming from have much lower infection rates of COVID-19 than the United States (as we have

the highest overall infection rate in the world). His hypocrisy is clear given the fact that he

frequently posts tweets that downplay the severity of the pandemic, but he then uses the same

pandemic to argue that asylum seekers- some one the most vulnerable people on earth- should

be barred from entering the country no matter what.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed four changes to the current asylum

system. First, public health emergencies would be added as a method to deny people entry if

there is a public health emergency in their country of origin or the U.S. According to President

Trump’s administration, this change would prevent the spread of viruses. Second, DHS would

expedite the removal of asylum seekers without seeing an immigration judge. According to

President Trump, all the applicants potentially pose a threat to the security of the country.

While true, the Trump administration has already implemented “extreme vetting” of all

immigrants attempting to enter the United States legally and so there are robust security

screenings in place. Third, participants seeking protection under the Convention against Torture

will be required to provide information in the initial screening stage on the possibility of future

torture if they go back to their country of origin. Fourth, the new rule would allow DHS to

remove asylum seekers to their country of origin even if they convinced DHS that they would be

tortured if they were deported. This last portion of the rule is especially troubling because it

violates the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which is binding international law because the

United States is a signatory to the treaty. One of the most important protections offered to

torture victims is the fact that a country is not allowed to deport a person back to somewhere

they have a reasonable possibility of torture. This clause is directly violated by Trump’s

proposed rule and will undoubtedly be challenged in Federal Court. The Trump administration

continues to ignore America’s international treaty obligations pertaining to the treatment of

asylum seekers and torture victims to score political points with its base supporters. Using the

pandemic to accomplish this political goal to limit immigration is not only hypocritical, it is

illegal.


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