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16th of July 2018

United States

Justice Department rescinds 24 Obama-era regulations

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday it is ditching 24 Obama-era guidance documents, including one granting work protections to refugees and asylum seekers.

Other documents being rescinded cover a wide variety of race and immigration issues, including federal protections against national origin discrimination and the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Criminal Alien Assistance Program.

“When issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President,” Mr. Sessions said in a statement. “In previous administrations, however, agencies often tried to impose new rules on the American people without any public notice or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance document on a website. That’s wrong, and it’s not good government.”

The rescinded documents cover polices related to right-to-work laws for refugees and asylum seekers; federal protections against national origin discrimination, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Criminal Alien Assistance Program.

Mr. Sessions said recision of the documents is a response to President Trump’s February 2017 executive order, requiring federal agencies to identify rules ripe for repeal, replacement or modification.

“In the Trump administration, we are restoring the rule of law,” Mr. Sessions said. “That’s why I banned this practice [of implementing new rules without public notice] at the Department and we began rescinding guidance documents that were issued improperly or were simply inconsistent with current law.”

In November, Mr. Sessions issued a memo barring Justice Department components from using guidance documents to circumvent the rulemaking process.

The 2011 guidance dictating the protections to refugees and asylum seekers is perhaps the most influential of the rescinded documents. It comes as the Trump administration continues its crackdown on immigration, including asylum seekers.

Under the guidance document, refugees and asylum seekers are “authorized to work indefinitely” and can receive Social Security cards without employment restrictions. It also barred employers from refusing to hire refugees or asylum seekers because they didn’t have a Social Security number.

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