Trump administration moves to restrict asylum claims by migrants

09 November, 2018, 22:59 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Members of one of the migrant caravans riding on a truck in Donaji Mexico last week

Those seeking political or other kinds of asylum - almost all of them coming from impoverished and violent crime-plagued countries of Central America - will be heard exclusively at the border crossings, administration officials told journalists.

The regulations released, in conjunction with an order expected to be signed by President Donald Trump, would effectively ban migrants who cross the United States border with Mexico illegally from qualifying for asylum.

The asylum section of the Immigration and Nationality Act says a migrant is allowed to make a claim up to a year after arriving in the US, and it doesn't matter how they arrive - illegally or through a border crossing.

One senior administration official spoke to reporters in a news briefing on condition of anonymity.

Under the rule, migrants seeking asylum will have to make their claims at official ports of entry on the border. Nonetheless, it would still give those who cross illegally a way to get into the immigration court backlog and released from custody, especially those who are traveling with children. Generally, only about 20 percent of applicants are approved.

In June, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued an appellate decision that sharply narrowed the circumstances under which immigrants can use violence at home as ground for US asylum.

Trump's proclamation puts into practice regulations adopted by immigration officials on Thursday.

The restriction is created to deter migrants from entering the country, including a caravan of South American refugees making their way toward the US-Mexico border.


The US president railed against the caravan in the lead up to the election, telling the refugees and migrants they would not be welcomed in the United States. Those issues were not addressed by the regulations.

Currently, migrants who enter the United States illegally between ports of entry are able to apply for asylum.

The official decree is expected on Friday and is likely to be challenged in courts immediately.

Although it's unclear how long the ruling will stay in place, it is certain that it's the result of the Latin American migrant caravan that Trump has likened to an "invasion".

The administration has also looked to end protections under programs in which tens of thousands of people from Honduras and El Salvador, who entered the country after hurricanes and earthquakes devastated their countries near the beginning of the century. Rights groups have called the move "illegal".

Immigrant advocates denounced the administration's move as unlawful, and said the plan to funnel migrants to ports of entry was just a way to cut asylum claims overall.

The interim final rule to limit asylum proposed on November 8, 2018, by the Trump Administration is the latest attempt to shut American doors to people fleeing persecution and violence, Human Rights Watch said today.

The goal of the new policy, according to a document the administration posted Thursday, is to push migrants toward official ports of entry where they can be processed in a "controlled, orderly, and lawful manner". They are now about 600 miles away.

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