Friday, 23 August, 2019

US Moves to Restrict Asylum for Southern Border Arrivals

U.S. Attorney General William Barr speaks to reporters after touring the Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution FILE- U.S. Attorney General William Barr speaks to reporters in Edgefield S.C
Patty Aguilar | 16 July, 2019, 15:45

"Until Congress can act, this interim rule will help reduce a major "pull" factor driving irregular migration to the United States and enable DHS and DOJ to more quickly and efficiently process cases originating from the southern border, leading to fewer individuals transiting through Mexico on a risky journey", Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in the statement. The rule will effectively bar migrants from claiming asylum, with certain exceptions, if they did not request asylum for protection from persecution or torture in at least one other country where asylum was available through which they traveled after leaving their point of origination. Presumably, Guatemalans, who are also fleeing violence and repression by a rabidly corrupt state, would be denied asylum in the USA on the grounds that they failed to apply in Mexico.

DHS noted that the change is meant to crack down on people who are abusing the asylum system as a way of getting around entering USA immigration laws.

Will the rule face a legal challenge?

"This is yet another move to turn refugees with well-founded fears of persecution back to places where their lives are in danger - in fact the rule would deny asylum to refugees who do not apply for asylum in countries where they are in peril", said Eleanor Acer of Human Rights First.

US law allows refugees to request asylum when they arrive at the USA regardless of how they did so, but there is an exception for those who have come through a country considered to be "safe".

Donald Trump is trying to change the US asylum laws, via executive action, in contravention of USA law, again.

The agreement would have reportedly allowed the USA to send to Guatemala not only Central Americans, but also Haitians, Africans and South Asians turning up on the USA southern border.

Guatemala's President, Jimmy Morales, has been under pressure from the United States, but Guatemala's constitutional court granted an injunction late on Sunday which effectively blocks him from signing a migration deal.

Immigrant rights groups say the Republican administration's policies are a cruel effort to keep immigrants out.

A similar policy enacted by the Trump administration was blocked by a federal judge in November.

The new rules offer "limited exceptions".

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Attorney General William Barr highlighted this change as a bulwark against fraud.

It's unclear whether the countries the Trump administration expects migrants to seek asylum in are willing or able to provide relief in the US's stead. "The United States is a generous country but is being completely overwhelmed by the burdens associated with apprehending and processing hundreds of thousands of aliens along the southern border".

Trump's acting Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleenan, meanwhile, asserted that the new rule would "help reduce a major "pull" factor driving illegal migration".

Tens of thousands of Central American migrant families cross the border each month, many claiming asylum.

For his part, Trump has lashed out at Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow left-leaning Democrats, roasting their views on immigration, his policies, and Israel.

There are now more than 900,000 cases pending before the immigration courts.

But the new rule would affect many more people than just those arriving from Central America. It will allow the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to "more quickly and efficiently process cases originating from the southern border, leading to fewer individuals transiting through Mexico on a unsafe journey".

There was no indication that there had been any massive sweeps, however, and officials at the Department of Homeland Security told some in the media that merely a "handful" of immigrants had been detained.

Speaking with CNN after his tour of the facility, Pence blamed Congress for the poor conditions at detention centers.

The rule seeks to cut down on frivolous "credible fear" claims that keep aliens in the United States until their claims for asylum can be heard and ruled on. During the 2018 budget year, there were 162,060 claims filed, and 13,168 were granted.

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