Trump de­cree to deny asy­lum

He is set to in­voke se­cu­rity pow­ers to limit it to only those who en­ter legally.

Tampa Bay Times - - Front Page -

WASHINGTON — The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced new mea­sures Thurs­day that would deny asy­lum to mi­grants who en­ter the coun­try il­le­gally, in­vok­ing emer­gency na­tional se­cu­rity pow­ers to curb long-stand­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian pro­tec­tions for for­eign­ers who ar­rive on Amer­i­can soil.

The re­stric­tions rely on au­thor­i­ties in­voked by the pres­i­dent to im­ple­ment his “travel ban” in early 2017, ac­cord­ing to se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials who briefed re­porters on the mea­sures.

“Those who en­ter the coun­try be­tween ports are know­ingly and vol­un­tar­ily break­ing the law,” said one of­fi­cial. “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.”

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is pre­par­ing to is­sue a procla­ma­tion to as­sert the emer­gency pow­ers, and the rule changes will be pub­lished to­day in the Fed­eral Reg­is­ter, the of­fi­cials said.

Le­gal chal­lenges are ex­pected to fol­low soon af­ter. Im­mi­gra­tion ad­vo­cacy groups in­sist U.S. laws clearly ex­tend asy­lum pro­tec­tions to any­one who reaches the United States, no mat­ter how they en­ter the coun­try.

But the asy­lum re­stric­tions are the lat­est at­tempts by the ad­min­is­tra­tion to as­sert ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers to re­strict im­mi­grants and for­eign­ers from en­ter­ing the United States. And with an es­ti­mated 7,000 to 10,000 Cen­tral Amer­i­cans mov­ing north through Mex­ico in car­a­van groups, Trump has been de­mand­ing new tools to stop them at the bor­der.

Pri­vately, Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials ac­knowl­edge the new re­stric­tions, at least on their own, are un­likely to achieve the kind of im­me­di­ate de­ter­rent the White House de­sires.

The ca­pac­ity at U.S. im­mi­gra­tion jails al­ready is nearly full, and courts have lim­ited the gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to hold chil­dren in im­mi­gra­tion jails for longer than 20 days. That means most mi­grant fam­i­lies who ar­rive seek­ing pro­tec­tion are still likely to be re­leased pend­ing a hear­ing.

Un­der U.S. im­mi­gra­tion laws, for­eign­ers who ar­rive on Amer­i­can soil stat­ing a fear of re­turn can re­quest asy­lum as a shield against de­por­ta­tion. A U.S. asy­lum of­fi­cer then con­ducts an in­ter­view to de­ter­mine if the per­son has a “cred­i­ble fear” of per­se­cu­tion, in which case the ap­pli­cant is typ­i­cally as­signed a court date and re­leased from cus­tody.

Soar­ing num­bers of mi­grants have en­tered the United States tak­ing this ad­min­is­tra­tive path in re­cent years, of­ten cross­ing il­le­gally to turn them­selves in to U.S. bor­der agents. Since 2014, asy­lum claims at the bor­der have in­creased four­fold, adding to a back­log of more than 750,000 pend­ing cases in U.S. im­mi­gra­tion courts.

The new mea­sures un­der prepa­ra­tion would con­tinue to al­low for­eign­ers to re­quest asy­lum if they en­ter the coun­try legally at U.S. ports of en­try, but not those who cross with­out autho­riza­tion, ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said.

With so many asy­lum seek­ers ar­riv­ing at bor­der cross­ings, U.S. cus­toms of­fi­cers have been lim­it­ing the num­ber of peo­ple al­lowed to ap­proach the pedes­trian en­try lanes, a tac­tic known as “me­ter­ing” that has trig­gered chal­lenges in fed­eral court.

U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion of­fi­cials de­fend the prac­tice on the grounds that the bor­der cross­ings are not equipped to process hun­dreds of asy­lum seek­ers daily, and of­fi­cers must con­tinue to fa­cil­i­tate ordinary cross­bor­der travel and trade while pro­tect­ing the coun­try from ter­ror­ists and drug run­ners.

It is un­clear how many of the mi­grants in the car­a­vans will ap­proach the ports of en­try and at­tempt to en­ter legally. In re­cent weeks the wait at some cross­ings has stretched to sev­eral days or more, and in Ti­juana the list of asy­lum seek­ers has grown to more than 1,000 peo­ple.

Those de­lays in­crease the chances that car­a­van mem­bers could at­tempt to cross il­le­gally by ford­ing the Rio Grande or trekking through the desert to set foot on U.S. soil and surrender to Bor­der Pa­trol agents.

Un­der the pro­posed rule changes, mi­grants who cross il­le­gally would be inel­i­gi­ble for asy­lum, but they could still be spared from de­por­ta­tion by qual­i­fy­ing for a lesser sta­tus known as “with­hold­ing of re­moval.”

That sta­tus does not give for­eign­ers a path to a green card or ci­ti­zen­ship, and in­stead func­tions as a kind of pro­vi­sional sus­pen­sion of de­por­ta­tion, re­vo­ca­ble at any time.

“Congress very specif­i­cally said you can ap­ply for asy­lum if you ar­rive in the United States re­gard­less of whether you’re at a port of en­try,” said Omar Jad­wat, di­rec­tor of the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union’s Im­mi­grants’ Rights Project.

“If the pres­i­dent doesn’t like what the law says, the way to ad­dress it is to get Congress to pass a new one.”

The pres­i­dent re­port­edly will is­sue an emer­gency procla­ma­tion.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Mex­i­can fed­eral po­lice briefly block U.S.-bound mi­grants on Oct. 27. Some 7,000 to 10,000 Cen­tral Amer­i­cans are mov­ing through the coun­try.

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