Friday, 16 November, 2018


Trump administration takes step to tighten asylum system

Trump just announced a big change to immigration policy – and it will affect caravan migrants Trump administration moves to crack down on asylum claims
Bennie Garza | 09 November, 2018, 09:13

The Trump administration said it would prohibit people who illegally cross the USA border with Mexico from claiming asylum, as the president seeks to choke off migration from Latin America.

The new rule was announced via a joint statement by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, and will not become effective until US President Donald Trump issues a proclamation, which is expected sometime Friday.

The restrictions rely on authorities Trump cited when implement his travel ban in early 2017, the Post reported. "So while immigration laws afford people various forms of protection, there's a violation of federal law in the manner these illegal aliens are entering the country".

The new rule comes as a so-called caravan of migrants from Central America travels north by foot through Mexico to the USA border.

The new policy would kick in only after the president issues a proclamation blocking entry of illegal immigrants across the southern border.

The president can stop migration in the "national interest", a statement said. "It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree", Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Rights Project, said.

During the election, Trump put immigration at the top of voters' minds, seeking to sow fear over a caravan of Central American migrants and asylum seekers.

US Army troops enter a compound where the military is erecting an encampment near the US-Mexico border crossing at Donna, Texas.

Administration officials argue the asylum system is abused by people who are not seeking security in the US but are instead searching for economic opportunity or trying to reunite with family members. Claims have spiked in recent years, and there is a backlog of more than 800,000 cases pending in immigration court.

Those issues were not addressed by the regulations. Only nine percent of those migrants seeking asylum, though, are ultimately granted asylum.

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. But many migrants are unaware of that guidance, and official border crossings have grown clogged.

Drawing on national security powers, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice issued a fast-track rule barring immigrants from seeking asylum if they first enter the US illegally.

In 2017, the US fielded more than 330,000 asylum claims, almost double the number two years earlier and surpassing Germany as highest in the world. Several smaller groups were trailing hundreds of miles to the south; officials estimated about 7,000 in all were in the country in the caravans. Most have passed largely unnoticed.

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