Tuesday, July 16, 2019

President Trump to Deny Asylum to Illegals at Mexican Border


At LAT, "Trump moves to eliminate nearly all asylum claims at U.S. southern border":

Reporting from Washington —  The Trump administration moved Monday to effectively end asylum for any migrant who arrives at the U.S.-Mexico border, an enormous shift in U.S. immigration policy that could block hundreds of thousands of people from seeking protection in the U.S. — and is certain to draw legal challenges.
The new rule, published in the Federal Register and set to take effect Tuesday, would bar asylum claims for nearly all migrants from any country. It would do so by prohibiting claims from anyone who has passed through another country en route to the U.S., which essentially would cover anyone other than Mexican residents.

Only in rare cases, such as when a migrant applies for asylum elsewhere and is denied, would a person be eligible to apply for protection in the U.S.

The rule would, in effect, nearly wipe out U.S. asylum law, which establishes a legal right to claim protection for anyone who arrives at the U.S. border and can make a case that they face torture or persecution at home. The law applies regardless of how a migrant reaches the border.

The law currently provides a major exception in cases in which the U.S. has negotiated a “safe third country” agreement with another government. Under those agreements, such as the one the U.S. has with Canada, migrants must apply in the first safe country they reach.

The new proposal would short-circuit that, effectively requiring migrants to apply in any country they land in, whether the U.S. formally considers that country safe or not.

The new rule was issued by the Justice and Homeland Security departments, which administer the asylum system, and it was written to take effect immediately when it’s formally published on Tuesday. It would apply only to those arriving to the U.S., not migrants already in the country.

The sweeping change drew an immediate threat of a legal fight.

“This rule is inconsistent with both domestic and international law, and we intend to sue immediately to block it,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s national Immigrants’ Rights Project, said.

“If allowed to stand, it would effectively end asylum at the southern border and could not be more inconsistent with our country’s commitment to protecting those in danger.”

The rule would most directly affect Central American families and unaccompanied minors, who account for most of a recent surge in migrants arriving at the border. But it applies to any nationality, including the large numbers of Haitians, Cubans and Africans who transit South and Central America and Mexico in order to claim asylum at the border.

“With limited exceptions, an alien who enters or attempts to enter the United States across the southern border after failing to apply for protection in a third country outside the alien’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence through which the alien transited en route to the United States is ineligible for asylum,” the rule states.

The rule would place a major burden on Mexico, which has already been inundated with a record number of asylum requests. Mexico’s Commission for Aid to Migrants projects that it will receive 80,000 asylum requests this year, up from 29,648 last year and 2,137 five years ago.

Last month, Mexico agreed to ramp up its immigration enforcement, and in exchange, Trump agreed to hold off on imposing tariffs on Mexican imports for 45 days. Many in Mexico reacted angrily on Monday, saying Trump had reneged on that agreement and had unilaterally imposed a policy that would hurt Mexico.

At a news conference, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico disagrees with the new rule, but said he did not see it as a violation of the June immigration deal because Mexico does not have a safe third country agreement with the U.S.

“Our country has made it very clear that we will not enter into any phase of negotiation on a safe third party agreement without the express authority of [the Mexican] Congress,” he said.

Ebrard avoided answering a question about what will happen to migrants currently waiting in Mexico for their chance to apply for asylum in the U.S. Those migrants who have already been screened by U.S. officials and are waiting in Mexico until their court hearings under the administration’s Remain in Mexico plan will be able to complete the asylum process in the U.S., he said.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said the rule was necessary despite a recent $4.6-billion bill to address humanitarian challenges at the border, and would deter migrants crossing through Mexico “on a dangerous journey.”

“The truth is that it will not be enough without targeted changes to the legal framework of our immigration system,” McAleenan said in a statement Monday.