Press Statement: Human Rights Initiative of North Texas (HRI) Statement on Today’s Major Asylum Rollback, Released on Human Rights Day

December 10, 2020

Contact: Kali Cohn

DALLAS – On December 10, 2020–the international observance of Human Rights Day–the Trump Administration announced the largest rollback of asylum in recent history.  The rule particularly targets people making asylum claims based on their gender and people fleeing political persecution, though its far-reaching effects will affect all asylum seekers.

“When I think about the brave resilient asylum seekers we have had the privilege of representing for the last 20 years, it is heartbreaking to watch our country turn our collective backs on them,” said Bill Holston, HRI’s Executive Director. “This rule is the most significant destruction of asylum in history. Asylum is a right with its basis in the international response to the Holocaust. We ARE turning away from our obligations never to return people to harm.”

“We need to see this for what it is: careful and calculated work to shut America’s borders,” said Pilar Ferguson, HRI’s Asylum Program Director. “This Administration has been on a rampage, attacking and under-resourcing our immigration system so that it comes to a grinding halt. The standstill—the mounting applications—the perceived dysfunction—gives them a seemingly reasonable justification to paper over what is really going on here: working to realize Steven Miller’s white nationalist vision of America. The recent final rule furthers this Administration’s white nationalist vision of America.”

“Women and girls are persecuted on account of their gender,” said Emily Heger, HRI’s Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by AT&T and Akin Gump. “That is a fact in countries around the world. And yet, once again in our country, through Executive agency–without Congressional oversight–this Administration has further slammed the door on women and girls seeking protection. Today we mourn the latest and most severe setback for our clients fleeing gender-based forms of persecution. But we also galvanize. We lean into the inspiring resilience of our clients, and for them, we will persist.”

“We want a system that welcomes the most vulnerable. This rule will turn them away,” said Kali Cohn, HRI’s Community Education & Advocacy Director. “It makes special targets of LGBTQIA people, women, and children. It targets people without the money or connections to fly directly to the United States. It targets people who are so desperate that they decided to walk to America. This is who we are, but this is not who we should be.”


About Human Rights Initiative of North Texas

For the past 20 years, Human Rights Initiative of North Texas has provided legal and critical social services for immigrant survivors of human rights abuses from all over the world. For more information, visit HRI is a 501(c)(3) organization and does not endorse or oppose candidates for office.


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