Washington, D.C. – Lambda Legal, Immigration Equality and co-counsel Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP filed a federal lawsuit, Immigration Equality v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Monday, December 21, challenging the Trump administration’s recently published “death to asylum” rule, which makes sweeping, essentially fatal changes to the United States asylum system. The rule, which is set to go into effect on Jan. 11, would make it virtually impossible for LGBTQ people and people living with HIV fleeing persecution to secure asylum in the United States. In fact, the new rule eliminates eligibility for asylum to anyone with a gender-based claim. Further, even if a judge finds that someone is eligible for asylum, the new rule declares that most refugees should be denied protection because they don’t deserve it.

            The lawsuit was filed on behalf of plaintiffs Immigration Equality, Oasis Legal Services, The TransLatin@ Coalition, Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project and Transgender Law Center. The population these organizations directly serve, asylum seekers who are LGBTQ or living with HIV, will face insurmountable barriers to asylum in the U.S., despite the fact that they have remarkably strong asylum claims. Jennifer C. Pizer, law and policy director for Lambda Legal, said, “The Trump administration’s disdain for immigrants and refugees and indifference to their suffering is no secret. Just as with every single action on immigration that this administration has taken, the glaringly obvious goal of this rule is to end asylum altogether. These unjustified, arbitrary and capricious, and illegal changes effectively close the door for nearly all refugees, betraying one of our nation’s core values — that we offer safe haven to persecuted minorities seeking safety from prejudice-based life-threatening violence,” she added.

            Immigration Equality Legal Director Bridget Crawford warned that the Trump administration’s rule would “cost hundreds of thousands of lives, including those of LGBTQ and HIV-positive people.”

She said, “If the ban is allowed to go forward, the U.S. will deport countless LGBTQ and HIV-positive refugees back to persecution, torture and death. The Trump administration’s attempt to abolish asylum cuts at the very heart of who we should be as a nation: a beacon of hope for people fleeing persecution. This rule must never see the light of day.” Aaron Frankel, partner at and co-chair of the Pro Bono Committee for Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, said that even though the incoming Biden administration would likely overturn the rule, “that process is not easy and will take a long time, leaving many people in life-threatening situations.” (Dallas Voice – at https://dallasvoice.com/lgbtq-hiv-advocates-file-suit-against-trump-immigration-rule/)

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