President Trump Signs Executive Order Denying Asylum to Illegal Border Crossers
Friday, US President Donald Trump invoked extraordinary national security powers to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, tightening the border as caravans of Central Americans slowly approach the United States.
President Trump is using the same powers he used to push through a version of the travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court. The proclamation puts into place regulations adopted Thursday that circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country.
“We need people in our country but they have to come in legally and they have to have merit,” President Trump said Friday as he prepared to depart for Paris.
The measures are meant to send asylum seekers through official border crossings for speedy rulings, officials said, instead of having them try to circumvent such crossings on the nearly 2,000-mile border.
The move was spurred in part by invading caravans of Central American migrants slowly moving north on foot but will apply to anyone caught crossing illegally, officials said Thursday.
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 does not allow for Green Cards or bringing families or asylum under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
The announcement was the latest push to enforce President Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration through regulatory changes and Presidential orders,
The new changes were likely to be met with legal challenges, too. Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said Thursday they were clearly illegal.
“US law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree,” he said.
Curbing immigration has been a signature issue for President Trump, who pushed it hard in the days leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, railing against the caravans that are still hundreds of miles from the border.
The Trump Administration has long said immigration officials are drowning in asylum cases partly because people falsely claim asylum and then live in the US with work permits.
The asylum section of the Immigration and Nationality Act says a migrant is allowed to make a claim up to a year after arriving in the U.S., and it doesn’t matter how they arrive illegally or through a border crossing.
Migrants who cross illegally are generally arrested and often seek asylum or some other form of protection. Claims have spiked in recent years, and there is a backlog of more than 800,000 cases pending in immigration court. Generally, only about 20% of applicants are approved.
President Trump has long said those seeking asylum should come through legal ports of entry. But many migrants are unaware of that guidance, and official border crossings have grown clogged.
Similar caravans have gathered regularly over the years and have generally dwindled by the time they reach the southern border. Most have passed largely unnoticed.
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