In the wake of ICE raids and an ever-tightening immigration policy, the Trump administration recently announced a sweeping new policy that will increase restrictions for asylum seekers.
It is a move that the President hopes will drastically reduce the number of Central American migrants eligible to enter the United States in this way.
The new rule, published in the Federal Register, would require most migrants entering through America’s southern border to first seek asylum in one of the countries they traversed – whether in Mexico, in Central America, or elsewhere along their journey.
In most cases, only if that application is denied would they then be able to seek asylum in the United States.
“Ultimately, this action will reduce the overwhelming burdens on our domestic system caused by asylum-seekers failing to seek urgent protection in the first available country, economic migrants lacking a legitimate fear of persecution, and the transnational criminal organizations, traffickers, and smugglers exploiting our system for profits,” Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in a statement, describing the “targeted changes” as critical.
Migrant Protection Protocols
In the heated climate surrounding immigration policy, the new approach will undoubtedly produce fierce objection from the left. However the policy is consistent with the Trump administration’s “Migrant Protection Protocols,” commonly referred to as the “remain in Mexico” policy. Under that policy, asylum seekers were often told to go back to Mexico to await hearings, rather than be allowed to remain in the U.S.
True to form, Democrats railed against that policy, with 2020 hopeful Beto O’Rourke calling it “inhumane.”
The latest change is meant to crack down on asylum seekers that are coming to the U.S. more for economic reasons than to escape persecution in their home countries. The new policy does include a couple of exceptions, mainly for certain victims of human trafficking.
Attorney General Bill Barr said in a statement that the change would curb “forum shopping by economic migrants and those who seek to exploit our asylum system to obtain entry to the United States—while ensuring that no one is removed from the United States who is more likely than not to be tortured or persecuted on account of a protected ground.”
While Barr maintained the legality of the move, the new rule is poised to face an immediate court challenge. Shortly after the policy was announced, the American Civil Liberties Union vowed to sue. “The Trump administration is trying to unilaterally reverse our country’s legal and moral commitment to protect those fleeing danger. This new rule is patently unlawful and we will sue swiftly,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the group’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement.