Homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker issue new restrictive regulation
The new regulation declares that people can apply for asylum along the US-Mexican border only at official ports of entry.
However, the Immigration and Nationality Act says very clearly that any person can apply for asylum whether or not at a designated port of arrival, said Tom Jawetz, vice-president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, in a statement.
Read more The Trump administration has a track record of proclaiming illegal immigration restrictions that are later thrown out in court, beginning with multiple travel bans the White House attempted to impose shortly after Trumps inauguration. A narrow and temporary version of Trumps travel ban was allowed to take effect.
In its rush to obstruct asylum seekers, the administration is attempting an end run around the law, said Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council. Congress has spoken clearly. Individuals are not required to ask for asylum at a port of entry. Any person in the United States must have access to the asylum process.
Motivated by a sense of moral purpose and in accordance with international norms settled after the second world war, the United States accepts asylum applicants who fear persecution in their home countries due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
Just under 40,000 applications for asylum in the United States were made by Mexicans and Central Americans in the five fiscal years from 2011 through 2016, while about 35,000 came from China, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (Trac), a data-gathering organization at Syracuse University.
The rejection rate of more than 80% for Mexican and Central American asylum-seekers is far higher, however, than the rejection rate for Chinese asylum-seekers, 22%. Trac figures indicate that a couple of hundred Mexicans at most are granted US asylum each year.
US proposes banning asylum through southern border
But if the new Trump regulations seemed ill-equipped to ease pressure on the overwhelmed US asylum system, they could serve the purpose of tying Trumps political identity even more tightly to Americans concerns about immigrants from Central America and Mexico.
US to deny asylum to illegal border crossers
In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, Trump raised alarm about an invasion of immigrants from the south and even deployed the US military to the border – in an operation that the administration and media wholly dropped after the elections.
Trump unveils hard-line immigration policy that limits asylum
While the administration clearly felt an urgent need to politicize the plight of a group of people – mostly mothers and children – traveling slowly through Mexico in advance of Tuesdays midterm elections, that hardly provides the urgency needed to justify putting this cruel policy in place without first hearing from the public, Jawetz said.
With the Trump administration, its useful to remember that as much as they embrace fear-mongering and anti-immigrant bias for their perceived political benefits, they are also committed to furthering an anti-immigrant and anti-refugee agenda every single day.
The Trump administration moved Thursday to order a sweeping new change meant to limit asylum claims by immigrants seeking to come to the U.S.
The new Trump policy was signed by the homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, the lead apologist for Trumps policy of family separations at the border, and by the acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, whose appointment on Wednesday was deemed plainly illegal by John Yoo, who crafted the George W Bush administrations legal argument for torture.
Trumps new asylum policy: most border crossers will be barred
The Trump administration has said it will deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, invoking extraordinary presidential national security powers to tighten the border as caravans of Central Americans slowly approach the United States.
The measures are meant to funnel asylum seekers through official border crossings for speedy rulings, officials said, instead of having them try to circumvent such crossings on the nearly 2,000-mile border.
But the busy ports of entry already have long lines and waits, forcing immigration officials to tell some migrants to come back to make their claims.
The move was spurred in part by caravans of Central American migrants slowly moving north on foot, but will apply to anyone caught crossing illegally, officials said.
Trump Administration Moves to Restrict Asylum at US-Mexico Border
It is unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally.
The regulations will be incorporated in a proclamation expected to be issued on Friday by President Donald Trump.
He will invoke the same powers he used to push through a version of the travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court, according to senior administration officials.
Done With Mere Law, The Trump Administration to Violate Basic Human Decency With New Asylum Restrictions
The regulations would circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country.
Administration officials said those denied asylum under the proclamation may be eligible for similar forms of protection if they fear returning to their countries, though they would be subject to a tougher threshold.
Those forms of protection include “withholding of removal” — which is similar to asylum, but does not allow for green cards or bringing families — or asylum under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
Thousands of people travelling from Central American nations to try to enter the United States have resumed their journey from southern Mexico to the US border.
The announcement was the latest push to enforce Mr Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration through regulatory changes and presidential orders, bypassing Congress.
But those efforts have been largely thwarted by legal challenges and, in the case of family separations this year, stymied by a global outcry that prompted Mr Trump to scrap them.
Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said: “US law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree.”
Curbing immigration has been a signature issue for Mr Trump, who pushed it hard in the days leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, railing against the caravans that are still hundreds of miles from the border.
He has made little mention of the issue since the election but has sent troops to the border in response.
Less than 10% Central American Migrants Arriving at Border Have Legitimate Asylum Claims
As of Thursday, there are more than 5,600 US troops deployed to the border mission, with about 550 actually working on the border in Texas.
The military is expected to have the vast majority of the more than 7,000 troops planned for the mission deployed by Monday, and that number could grow.