Asylum Seekers & Refugees

United States law enshrines the protections of the international Refugee Convention, drafted in the wake of the horrors of World War II. The law provides that any person “physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States … irrespective of such [person’s] status, may apply for asylum[1]…”

For asylum seekers, making it to the United States often means they have found safety from persecution, torture, and sometimes death. But upon their arrival, they face a new odyssey of navigating complex U.S. immigration laws and an increasingly restrictive environment that bars many bona fide asylum seekers from winning protection. Under the Trump administration, these challenges have become even greater.

Since 2017, the federal government has unleashed relentless attacks on the U.S. asylum system and against the people who seek safety within our borders. Internal memos[2] have revealed these efforts to be concerted, organized, and implemented toward the goal of ending asylum in the United States.

NIJC works to combat these injustices and uphold the U.S. obligation to provide refuge for men, women, and children seeking freedom from persecution.

Below is a timeline highlighting the major events comprising the administration’s assault on asylum seekers.

 Download this timeline in a PDF[3]

Download Attacks on Asylum and Litigation[4]

A Timeline of the Trump Administration’s Efforts to End Asylum

November 2020

  • Federal Court stops the systematic expulsions of children at the border (P.J.E.S. v. Wolf)
    • In March 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) closed the U.S. border over the outcry of public health experts; such experts included high-ranking CDC officials, who were ultimately strong-armed[5] by Vice-President Pence and Stephen Miller. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) proceeded to expel over 200,000 migrants and asylum seekers at the border, including over 13,000[6] children—some of whom were arbitrarily sent to Mexico[7] despite having no roots or caregiver there. 

1 2 3 4 5