The Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review issued a proposed rule on July 9, 2020, that would amend existing regulations to clarify that the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice may consider emergency public health concerns based on communicable disease due to potential international threats from the “spread of pandemics” when deciding whether there are reasonable grounds for regarding a person as a danger to the security of the United States and, thus, ineligible for asylum or withholding of removal.

The proposed rule provides that this application of the statutory bars to eligibility for asylum and withholding of removal would be effectuated at the credible fear screening stage for those in expedited removal proceedings “to streamline the protection review process and minimize the spread and possible introduction into the United States of communicable and widespread disease.” The proposed rule also would allow DHS to exercise its prosecutorial discretion regarding how to process individuals subject to expedited removal who are determined to be ineligible for asylum in the United States on certain grounds, including “being reasonably regarded as a danger to the security of the United States.” Finally, the proposed rule would “modify the process for evaluating the eligibility of aliens for deferral of removal who are ineligible for withholding of removal as presenting a danger to the security of the United States.”

Comments on the proposed rule are due by August 10, 2020.

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