Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Trump Administration Plans Tighter Asylum Rules at Southern Border

Photo: jose luis gonzalez/Reuters
Migrants who passed through another country first would be ineligible for asylum at the U.S. border, with some exceptions
The Trump administration on Monday moved to dramatically limit Central American migrants’ ability to seek asylum at the U.S. border with Mexico, an escalation of the president’s push to stem the flood of border crossers that is straining the U.S. immigration system to the breaking point.
Under the rule published online on Monday, with limited exceptions, migrants who passed through another country first would be ineligible for asylum at the U.S. border and would instead be forced to seek it in another country through which they passed. The vast majority of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border come from Central America, passing through Mexico, and in some cases Guatemala, first.
Senior Trump administration officials have said the surge of families from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador fleeing poverty and violence for asylum in the U.S. has pushed the nation’s border-security infrastructure beyond its capacity. The Trump administration notes that only a small number of asylum-seekers are ultimately granted asylum, and said the new rule is also meant to alleviate the strain from a large number of meritless asylum claims.
Tens of thousands of Central American families and unaccompanied children have arrived monthly in the last year and nearly all have said they intend to apply for asylum. Though the number of people caught crossing the border illegally has declined in the last month, Border Patrol agents are likely to continue to see thousands of such migrants for the rest of the summer, most of whom would be impacted by the new asylum rule. The new rule wouldn’t affect the roughly 20,000 mostly Central American asylum-seekers in Mexico awaiting U.S. court dates.
“Today’s action will reduce the overwhelming burdens on our domestic system caused by asylum-seekers failing to seek urgent protection in the first available country, economic migrants lacking a legitimate fear of persecution, and the transnational criminal organizations, traffickers, and smugglers exploiting our system for profits,” Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement.
The rule, issued by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, takes effect Tuesday and would effectively block asylum protections for most Central Americans. It contains exceptions for people denied asylum in another country or victims of human trafficking.
Trump officials said the Immigration and Nationality Act gives the attorney general the authority to set new limitations on who can seek asylum. But immigrant-rights groups pledged to challenge the new rule in court, arguing it is inconsistent with another portion of the same statute. That section generally allows people to request asylum when they arrive at the U.S., with some exceptions, including those coming through a country deemed “safe” pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral agreement. The U.S. currently has only one such pact, known as a safe-third-country agreement, and that is with Canada.
“This is a back-door attempt to eliminate asylum without having lawful safe-third-country agreements,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the immigrants’ rights program at the American Civil Liberties Union.
Read the rest from the WSJ HERE and follow links below to related stories:

TWJ: Trump Administration Announces Big Crackdown on Central American Asylum Seekers

NR: Trump Administration Implements ‘Third Country’ Rule to Alleviate Border Crisis

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