Trump to re­strict asy­lum re­quests

New pol­icy would spurn claims by those en­ter­ing the coun­try il­le­gally

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - News - Alan Gomez Con­tribut­ing: John Fritze in Wash­ing­ton; As­so­ci­ated Press

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced a plan Thurs­day to cut back im­mi­grants’ abil­ity to re­quest asy­lum in the U.S., a chal­lenge to fed­eral law and in­ter­na­tional conventions that the pres­i­dent said is nec­es­sary to stop an im­mi­grant car­a­van slowly mak­ing its way to the U.S.-Mex­i­can bor­der.

Im­mi­grants are al­lowed to re­quest asy­lum whether they present them­selves at ports of en­try or il­le­gally en­ter the coun­try. The rules pro­posed by the ad­min­is­tra­tion would bar those who en­ter il­le­gally from mak­ing an asy­lum claim and place them into ex­pe­dited de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings in­stead, ac­cord­ing to a post­ing by the De­part­ments of Jus­tice and Home­land Se­cu­rity on the Fed­eral Reg­is­ter late Thurs­day.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump hinted at such a change in the weeks lead­ing up to Tues­day’s midterm elec­tions. Dur­ing a news con­fer­ence four days be­fore the elec­tions, he said there was “ram­pant abuse” of the asy­lum sys­tem, which saw an in­crease in claims from 5,000 in 2008 to 97,000 in 2018, mostly fu­eled by Cen­tral Amer­i­cans flee­ing vi­o­lence and poverty in their home coun­tries.

“Our asy­lum sys­tem is over­whelmed with too many mer­it­less asy­lum claims from aliens who place a tremen­dous bur­den on our re­sources, pre­vent­ing us from be­ing able to ex­pe­di­tiously grant asy­lum to those who truly de­serve it,” De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Kirst­jen Nielsen and Act­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral Matthew Whi­taker said in a state­ment. “To­day, we are us­ing the au­thor­ity granted to us by Con­gress to bar aliens who vi­o­late (the new rules).”

Lee Gel­ernt, an Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union at­tor­ney who led a law­suit that forced the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­unite more than 2,500 im­mi­grant chil­dren sep­a­rated from their par­ents this sum­mer, said the pro­posed asy­lum changes are du­bi­ous.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plan to cat­e­gor­i­cally deny asy­lum to those who en­ter be­tween ports of en­try is patently un­law­ful and in­con­sis­tent with our na­tion’s com­mit­ment to pro­vid­ing a safe haven to those in dan­ger,” Gel­ernt said Thurs­day. “There will be law­suits.”

Curb­ing im­mi­gra­tion has been a sig­na­ture is­sue for 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. As of Thurs­day, there are more than 5,600 U.S. 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.

Trump also sug­gested he’d re­voke the right to cit­i­zen­ship for ba­bies born to non-U.S. cit­i­zens on Amer­i­can soil and erect mas­sive “tent cities” to de­tain mi­grants. Those is­sues were not ad­dressed by the reg­u­la­tions Thurs­day.


Ma­rine Corps en­gi­neers from Camp Pendle­ton put up ra­zor wire this week just east of the San Ysidro Port of En­try where trains pass from the US to Mex­ico and Mex­ico to the US. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has said it plans to limit the abil­ity of im­mi­grants to seek asy­lum.

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