Trump to restrict asylum requests
Claims by those entering illegally would be spurned
The Trump administration announced a plan Thursday to cut back immigrants’ ability to request asylum in the USA, 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.”