WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is unilaterally moving to end asylum protections for most Central American migrants, declaring that asylum seekers who pass through another country before reaching the U.S. will be ineligible for asylum.
The action is targeted toward Central American migrants who pass through Mexico in an effort to see asylum in the United States at the border with Mexico.
The action is supported by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. They will publish in the Federal Register on Tuesday.
It is immediately in effect once published, as the Trump administration is invoking a rarely-used so-called “good cause” exception that ignores the usual 30-day delay in its effective date.
“The Departments have determined that immediate implementation of this rule is essential to avoid a surge of aliens who would have strong incentives to seek to cross the border during pre-promulgation notice and comment or during the 30-day delay in the effective date,” they said Monday.
Specifically, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are adding a new bar to eligibility for asylum “for an alien who enters or attempts to enter the United States across the southern border, but who did not apply for protection from persecution or torture where it was available in at least one third country outside the alien’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence through which he or she transited en route to the United States,” according to a release sent to reporters on Monday.
According to the release from DHS, asylum is a “discretionary benefit” offered by the United States Government to those fleeing persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Attorney General William Barr noted that only a small minority of these individuals are ultimately granted asylum.
“The large number of meritless asylum claims places an extraordinary strain on the nation’s immigration system, undermines many of the humanitarian purposes of asylum, has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis of human smuggling, and adversely impacts the United States’ ongoing diplomatic negotiations with foreign countries,” he said in the release, quoting from the rule.
Three exceptions will be granted, according to the release.
- An alien who demonstrates that he or she applied for protection from persecution or torture in at least one of the countries through which the alien transited en route to the United States, and the alien received a final judgment denying the alien protection in such country;
- An alien who demonstrates that he or she satisfies the definition of “victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons;”
- An alien who has transited en route to the United States through only a country or countries that were not parties to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the 1967 Protocol, or the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.