Immigration

Trump signs order prohibiting asylum for migrants who enter the country illegally

The White House announced a new regulation preventing foreigners who enter the United States illegally from requesting asylum. In future, asylum can only be requested by those who legally present themselves at a port of entry.
9 Nov 2018 – 11:32 AM EST

President Donald Trump wasted no time Friday signing the order a day after it was announced by there White House.

"We need people in our country, but they have to come legally and they have to be prepared," Trump said before leaving on a trip to Paris. "We need the votes of the Democrats to pass new immigration laws," he added.

Friday's 'presidential proclamation' prohibits asylum for migrants who enter the country illegally. It goes into effect on Saturday.

According to a senior White House official, those who do not comply with the new rules will be arrested and prosecuted and then deported.

"Our goal is to have a process that works quickly and efficiently for people whose lives are really in danger," a senior administration official told reporters in a news briefing on Thursday, on condition of anonymity, adding that only 10% of asylum seekers actually qualify for it.

“What we are attempting to do is trying to funnel ... asylum claims through the ports of entry where we are better resourced, have better capabilities and better manpower and staffing to actually handle those claims in an expeditious and efficient manner,” the official added.

Data from the Immigration Case Review Office (EOIR) shows that at the end of June the immigration courts had a backlog of more than 740,000 cases.

"The arrival of a large number of foreigners will contribute to the overload of our immigration and asylum system and to the liberation of thousands of foreigners in the interior of the United States," according to the order signed by Trump.

It goes on; migration "through our southern border has precipitated a crisis and undermined the integrity of our borders."

This new measure comes in reponse to the Central American migrant caravan that has been making its way for the last two weeks seeking to cross the U.S. border with Mexico to flee violence and poverty in their home countries.

"The United States expects the arrival at the border between the United States and Mexico (southern border) of a substantial number of aliens primarily from Central America who appear to have no lawful basis for admission into our country," the proclamation reads. "Many entered Mexico unlawfully — some with violence — and have rejected opportunities to apply for asylum and benefits in Mexico."

Many of the caravaners are fleeing “life-threatening violence or persecution” and require international protection, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement issued in Geneva on Friday. The United States must make sure anyone fleeing violence or persecution can get unobstructed protection, the U.N. refugee agency said.

Blow to due process


The new asylum regulation is an "excuse" to undermine legal due process, the American Association of Immigration Lawyers (AILA) said in a statement.

"The Trump government is using the caravan of desperate people hundreds of miles away as an excuse to destroy our nation's laws and prevent asylum-seekers from obtaining a fair asylum opportunity," the organization said. "The United States asylum law guarantees a fair and meaningful opportunity to seek asylum, even for those who enter through places outside the ports of entry," it added.

AILA says that, while "not everyone is eligible for asylum, all people who come to the border deserve their asylum claim to be heard. The government's attempt to end that fundamental American value of due process is reprehensible. "

"Forcing asylum seekers to show up at ports of entry means that even more people will be rejected, something that the administration is already doing," it added.


In its statement, UNHCR reminded the Trump administration of its obligations under the 1967 refugee Protocol to which the United States is a party. It added that “long-standing insufficient reception capacity at official U.S. southern border ports of entry” was causing significant delays in northern Mexico, forcing many desperate asylum-seekers to turn to smugglers and cross the border irregularly.

“National security and dignified reception of refugees and asylum-seekers are not mutually exclusive, but rather mutually reinforcing,” it said.

In photos: Central American immigrants await asylum in the United States

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