New immigration rule would allow judges to refuse transgender asylum seeker claims without hearing

JULY 13, 2019: Munich rainbow refugees attending the Gay Pride parade also known as Christopher Street Day (CSD) in Munich, Germany.
JULY 13, 2019: Munich rainbow refugees attending the Gay Pride parade also known as Christopher Street Day (CSD) in Munich, Germany. Photo: Shutterstock

A procedural change proposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would allow immigration judges to dismiss claims from transgender asylum seekers before they even have a chance to argue their case.

The new rule “absolutely guts U.S. asylum law and procedures” according to experts.

Related: ICE faces class-action lawsuit for holding transgender migrants in COVID-19 “death traps”

The changes would instruct judges and officials to “not favorably adjudicate the claims of aliens” who claim persecution based on their gender among other characteristics. Hearings for most transgender people and abused women could be mostly eliminated.

The revision would “effectively eliminate court hearings for entire swaths of asylum seekers,” according to Newsweek. It would allow judges to dismiss asylum claims without actually holding a hearing. Instead, the judge would decide based off the application alone.

Among the revisions would be changing the “credible fear” screening away from language that specifies the standard of proof would be “credible fear of persecution.” Instead of accepting that violence could happen, the new guideline would be changed to the more definite “reasonable possibility of persecution.”

Throughout the Trump administration, transgender asylum seekers have been particularly vulnerable.

Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez was looking for a better life when she came to America seeking asylum. She was fleeing brutality in her native Honduras but died at the hands of the for-profit prison industry who held her captive since her arrival.

She was being held in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in New Mexico when she died. An independent autopsy indicated that she died of dehydration and had been beaten before she died. A government autopsy declared she died of complications from HIV.

In January, House Democrats called on ICE to release all transgender detainees from their “inhumane” facilities.

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