Groups sue af­ter Trump or­der re­strict­ing asy­lum

The Capital - - NEWS - By Colleen Long

WASHINGTON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is­sued an or­der Fri­day to deny asy­lum to mi­grants who en­ter the coun­try il­le­gally, tight­en­ing the bor­der as car­a­vans of Cen­tral Amer­i­cans slowly ap­proach the coun­try. The plan was im­me­di­ately chal­lenged in court.

Trump in­voked the same pow­ers he used last year to im­pose a travel ban that was up­held by the Supreme Court. The new reg­u­la­tions are in­tended to cir­cum­vent laws stat­ing that any­one is el­i­gi­ble for asy­lum no mat­ter how he or she en­ters the coun­try. About 70,000 peo­ple per year who en­ter the coun­try il­le­gally claim asy­lum, of­fi­cials said.

“We need peo­ple in our coun­try but they have to come in legally,” Trump said Fri­day as he de­parted for Paris.

The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union and other le­gal groups sued in fed­eral court in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia to block the reg­u­la­tions, ar­gu­ing the mea­sures were clearly il­le­gal.

“The pres­i­dent is sim­ply try­ing to run roughshod over Congress’ de­ci­sion to pro­vide asy­lum to those in dan­ger re­gard­less of the man­ner of one’s en­try,” said ACLU at­tor­ney Lee Gel­ernt.

The lit­i­ga­tion also seeks to put the rules on hold while the lit­i­ga­tion pro­gresses.

The reg­u­la­tions go into ef­fect Satur­day. They would be in place for at least three months but could be ex­tended, and don’t af­fect peo­ple al­ready in the coun­try. The Jus­tice Depart­ment said the reg­u­la­tions are law­ful.

Trump’s an­nounce­ment was the lat­est push to en­force a hard-line stance on im­mi­gra­tion through reg­u­la­tory changes and pres­i­den­tial or­ders, by­pass­ing Congress, which has not passed any im­mi­gra­tion law re­form. But those ef­forts have been largely thwarted by le­gal chal­lenges and, in the case of fam­ily sep­a­ra­tions this year, stymied by a global out­cry that prompted Trump to re­treat.

Of­fi­cials said the asy­lum law changes are meant to fun­nel mi­grants through of­fi­cial bor­der cross­ings for speedy rul­ings in­stead of hav­ing them try to cir­cum­vent such cross­ings on the nearly 2,000-mile bor­der.

But the busy ports of en­try al­ready have long lines and waits, forc­ing im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials to tell some mi­grants to turn around and come back to make their claims. Even de­spite that, il­le­gal cross­ings are his­tor­i­cally low.

Back­logs have be­come es­pe­cially bad in re­cent months at cross­ings in Ari­zona, Cal­i­for­nia and Texas, with some peo­ple wait­ing five weeks to try to claim asy­lum at San Diego’s main cross­ing.

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 forms of pro­tec­tion in­clude “with­hold­ing of re­moval” — which is sim­i­lar to asy­lum, but doesn’t al­low for green cards or bring­ing fam­i­lies — or pro­tec­tion un­der the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion Against Tor­ture.

About 500 Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants de­parted Mex­ico City early Fri­day and headed to­ward the north­ern city of Ti­juana — a longer and likely safer route to the U.S. bor­der — while thou­sands more were wait­ing an­other day at an im­pro­vised shel­ter.

BENEDICTE DESRUS/SIPA USA

Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants rest Thurs­day at a sta­dium in Mex­ico City. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day moved to deny asy­lum to mi­grants who en­ter the coun­try il­le­gally.

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