What Changes Will Pres. Trump Make to Asylum for LGBT & Women?


Over the next few days I will look ahead to see what changes will be made in immigration law and procedures in the incoming Trump Administration. I will use the statements of Trump and his top aids, as well as the Republican Platform, as a guide. Because Republicans control both houses of Congress, I think that President-Elect Trump is uniquely positioned to enact his proposals. It is difficult at this time to predict how much control he will have over the Republicans in the House and the Senate, but we can expect that his victory on November 8 will lead to a new restrictionist spirit.

I want to examine each aspect of Trump’s program for changing our immigration system and what he will need to do to effect those changes.

Some of Trump’s proposals like The Wall got a lot of attention during the campaign, but his program for change is much broader and will, if successful, reach into every aspect of immigrants’ lives.

I will begin the series by looking at his plans for political asylum for LGBT and gender-based asylum.

The Republican Platform was heavily influenced by Donald Trump’s top immigration adviser Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State. He is the legal mind behind anti-immigrant laws in states like Alabama and Arizona.  He may be offered an important immigration policy position in the new administration.

Until the early 1990s, our immigration laws prohibited homosexuals from entering the United States. That law was changed over conservative objections, and over time avenues were opened for LGBT people suffering persecution to apply for asylum as members of targeted social group. Women who were victims of Female Genital Mutilation or systematic domestic abuse were also allowed to apply for asylum as part of a particular social group. Although the number of people granted asylum as members of a social group has never been large and those who have succeeded have only done so after going through great efforts, this has been an important way of protecting those seeking asylum from deadly violence.

The recognition of gay and lesbian asylum seekers who have been persecuted because of their sexual orientation as people worthy of protection is a relatively new concept, and one that most conservatives have never accepted. The Republican platform says in deliberately obscure language that:

From its beginning, our country has been a haven of refuge and asylum. That should continue — but with major changes. Asylum should be limited to cases of political, ethnic or religious persecution.

The basis for asylum that the platform would eliminate is that for persons persecuted because they are members of a social group. This would eliminate protections for those persecuted on account of their gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

In theory, the removal of “social group” from asylum law would require an act of Congress, however, there are several steps that a president could take that would effectively curtail applications based on that ground of asylum.

Immigration judges and the members of the Board of Immigration Appeals are not part of an independent judiciary, they are appointed by the Attorney General. Presidential directives could have a deciding influence on how they interpret the definition of a social group making it much harder for gays, lesbians, and abused women to find a refuge in the United States.

The changes could have deadly consequences for thousands of people.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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  1. Everyone will be treated Equally, Will need to enter the country Legally
    Its going to be a Clearly laid out system easy to follow
    Your much better off with trump than Hillary, she was never going to open the borders, she said that for votes because she was losing so bad. If you remember she did not say that till only a few months ago, Look at the videos on youtube of her explaining how she planned on stopping anyone from getting in our borders, Machine gun posts, Barbed wire, Razor wire fences, electric fences and even greased Concrete Barriers. Shes the total opposite of what you see on TV in person. She knows what to say to get votes she’s been doing it for 30 years, they say anything to make people heard like sheep. Shes all about power, Immagine open boarders and dangerous refugees coming from the middle easy so we have more problems like ORLANDO and there would be no place to be safe on earth because this is the last safe place on earth if you have not noticed and people on the other side of the mexico boarder get murdered in the street and tortured by the cartels daily. Could you image if that happened
    Just worked on his Campaign