Pres­i­dent’s or­der would limit asy­lum

ACLU, other groups say the move is il­le­gal, file chal­lenge in U.S. court

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - NATION & WORLD 2 -

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 United States. 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 swiftly 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,” ACLU at­tor­ney Lee Gel­ernt said.

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

The rules, which go into ef­fect Satur­day, would be in place for at least three months but could be ex­tended, and don’t af­fect peo­ple al­ready in the coun­try.

Of­fi­cials said the asy­lum 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. The U.S. Bor­der Pa­trol says it ap­pre­hended more than 50,000 peo­ple cross­ing il­le­gally in Oc­to­ber, set­ting a new high this year, though il­le­gal cross­ings are well below his­tor­i­cal highs from pre­vi­ous decades.

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.

Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials said they were adding staffing at the bor­der cross­ings to man­age the ex­pected crush, but it’s not clear how mi­grants, specif­i­cally fam­i­lies, would be held as their cases are ad­ju­di­cated. Fam­ily de­ten­tion cen­ters are largely at ca­pac­ity.

Mean­while, about 500 Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants headed out of Mex­ico City on Fri­day to em­bark on the long­est and most dan­ger­ous leg of their jour­ney to the U.S. bor­der.

The group that got a head start bun­dled their few pos­ses­sions and started off, tak­ing a sub­way to the north­ern part of the city and then hik­ing down an ex­press­way with a po­lice es­cort.

Mean­while, an ad­di­tional 4,000 to 5,000 mi­grants milled around the mas­sive shel­ter im­pro­vised at a Mex­ico City sports com­plex, im­pa­tient to leave.

Car­a­van co­or­di­na­tor Mil­ton Benitez said of­fi­cials had of­fered them buses for women and chil­dren, but or­ga­niz­ers de­manded that they be for ev­ery­one.

Mex­ico City is more than 600 miles from the near­est U.S. bor­der cross­ing at McAllen, Texas. But the mi­grants who left Fri­day opted to take the 1,740-mile route to Ti­juana be­cause the shorter route is so rife with drug gangs that the mi­grants con­sider it too dan­ger­ous to risk.


In Mex­ico City, a sleep­ing Hon­duran girl was be­ing car­ried as a group of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants sought to reach the U.S. bor­der.

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