Trump administration moves to crack down on asylum claims

Evarado Alatorre
Noviembre 9, 2018

"Today's rule applies this important principle to aliens who violate such a suspension or restriction regarding the southern border", Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker said.

The new rules will nearly certainly face court challenges.

Mr Trump made his hardline policies toward immigration a key issue ahead of Tuesday's midterm elections, sending thousands of U.S. troops to help secure the southern border and repeatedly drawing attention to a caravan of Central American migrants trekking through Mexico toward the United States. Trump has vowed to stop them from entering the country and made the issue a key part of his closing argument ahead of this week's midterm elections.

Under the rule, migrants seeking asylum will have to make their claims at official ports of entry on the border.

The regulations will be incorporated in a proclamation expected to be issued Friday by President Donald Trump. "It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree", said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, in a statement.

The rule, as outlined by administration officials on a briefing call, is meant to crack down on people who jump the border illegally and then subsequently make asylum claims. There, "they would be processed in a controlled, orderly, and lawful manner", according to the rule.

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He called a current caravan, which is still hundreds of miles from the United States border and dwindling in numbers, an "invasion" and said it would bring hardened criminals to U.S. streets.

Administration officials described the new policy as necessary to combat what they see as rampant abuse of the existing system, noting that most migrants who request asylum under the current process are ultimately denied. The decision notes, however, that this is not to say that Trump cannot end DACA at all, but that in this case, the administration "acted based on an erroneous view of what the law required".

Human rights campaigners and other critics of the Trump crackdown say that by restricting asylum seekers to the narrow border crossing points - which are already under enormous pressure - the government is effectively shutting the door on people who may truly be fleeing for their lives. "We will resist this".

But the administration official argued that "what we're attempting to do is trying to funnel credible fear claims, or asylum claims, through the ports of entry where we are better resourced".

Last week, he said he would be taking steps to limit asylum claims. "An alien simply crosses the border illegally, finds a border patrol agent, and using well-coached language by lawyers and others that stand there and try to get fees or whatever they can get".

In 2017, the USA fielded more than 330,000 asylum claims, almost double the number two years earlier and surpassing Germany as highest in the world.

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