Trump Administration Moves to Curb Migrants' Asylum Claims

Clay Curtis
November 9, 2018

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.

President Donald Trump is preparing to issue a proclamation asserting the emergency powers - and the rule changes will be published Friday in the Federal Register, The Washington Post reported. 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.

On a call with reporters Thursday, senior administration officials emphasized that point, claiming that it would mean asylum claims will be handled more efficiently.

The issue of the country's loose asylum laws - where foreign nationals can claim that they fear for their lives in their native country and be released into the USA until their day in court - has sparked debate as a caravan of 7,000 to 10,000 Central Americans heads to the U.S.

The new rules will nearly certainly face court challenges.

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Housley later asked for prayers on social media and said he was "staying positive and wishing there was more I could do". Our thoughts and prayers are with the Housley family during this hard time and hope that Alaina is found safe.

The Trump administration took a major step on Thursday to restrict asylum claims, putting forward a regulation that would make individuals ineligible for asylum if they cross the United States southern border between official ports of entry.

Mr Trump made his hardline policies toward immigration a key issue ahead of Tuesday's midterm elections, sending thousands of USA troops to help secure the southern border and repeatedly drawing attention to a caravan of Central American migrants trekking through Mexico toward the United States.

Immigrant advocates denounced the move, saying it violated existing US law that allows people fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries to apply for asylum regardless of whether they enter illegally or not. 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.

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 issues were not addressed by the regulations Thursday. Generally, only about 20 per cent of applicants are approved. Criminalization of asylum seekers rather than compassion has created some of the most shameful policies I've ever witnessed in this country. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA 208 (b)(2)(C)) unambiguously states that ineligibility grounds for asylum established by regulation must be "consistent with" section 208 of the INA, which explicitly says that aliens may lodge asylum claims "not at a designated port of entry".

Officials have turned away asylum seekers at border crossings because of overcrowding, telling them to return later. "Since 2017, Amnesty has documented that thousands of people already wait for weeks on end at the ports of entry, and others have been wrongfully turned away by US border officials as they attempt to seek protection". The migrants are largely poor people and many say they're fleeing violence; more than 1,700 were children under 18, and more than 300 were children under age 5.

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