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Loyola L. Rev.


Asylum is under attack. After almost four years of the Trump Administration exercising political control over case law, signing executive orders, drafting presidential proclamations, issuing internal agency guidance and sweeping regulatory changes, and taking other measures, the United States system to protect asylum seekers is being dismantled. The system largely ground to a halt after the Trump Administration co-opted the coronavirus public health crisis to effectively close the southern border to asylum seekers with its March 2020 Center for Disease Control order. This catastrophic order is not even the last in a long line of the Trump Administration’s efforts since assuming power to obliterate asylum protection. Building on the actions from 2017 forward, the Trump Administration has proposed further regulations this year to undermine and eviscerate asylum protection.

A combination of public outcry and litigation through the courts have halted or limited some of the Trump Administration’s attempts to undermine asylum protection. Other new policies have gone into effect and some remain in effect, with dramatic results. By tracing the sustained series of policies, regulations, and other actions taken by the Trump Administration against asylum seekers, this article offers a roadmap of policies to be undone by a future Administration. Taking into account the public commitments made by the Biden campaign on asylum issues, this article outlines the actions a future democratic Administration will need to take to not only right the wrongs committed by the Trump Administration, but to provide truly meaningful asylum protection and to reassume the United States’ role as the global leader in refugee protection.