Trump seeks further asylum limits for Central Americans
WASHINGTON (AA): President Donald Trump moved Monday to halt asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border in the latest effort to curtail immigration from Central America.
The interim final rule to be published in the Federal Register Tuesday stipulates that migrants who pass through another country en route to the U.S. must apply for asylum in a country through which they transited.
Should they not claim asylum in that country they will be ineligible for asylum in the U.S.
The new rule will broadly apply to migrants, including children who transit to the U.S. without an accompanying adult.
It does, however, have carve outs for individuals who are a “victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons,” as well as if the migrant passed through a country that did not sign on to international accords that govern asylum claims. Most nations in the western hemisphere are signatories.
It also allows for individuals who were denied asylum in a third country to apply at the U.S. border.
The rule will be effective after it is published Tuesday.
It is nearly certain to face legal challenges from rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union which promised to “swiftly” sue.
“The Trump administration is trying to unilaterally reverse our country’s legal and moral commitment to protect people who are fleeing danger,” the union said on Twitter. “This new rule is patently unlawful.”
Under U.S. law asylum claims are allowed to be made at the border or within the U.S. without the types of restrictions the administration is seeking to implement
Attorney General William Barr insisted in a statement accompanying the rule’s announcement that it is “a lawful exercise of authority provided by Congress to restrict eligibility for asylum.”
He further claimed it will decrease what he called “forum shopping by economic migrants and those who seek to exploit our asylum system to obtain entry to the United States.”
The Trump administration has come under severe criticism for its treatment of Central American migrants fleeing rampant gang violence and widespread poverty in the region.
The administration has pursued a “zero tolerance” policy that has led to the separation of migrant children from their accompanying adults after they are apprehended for crossing the border illegally, and has implemented a process of “metering” at legal points of entry designed to curtail and draw out asylum claims.