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With This New Rule, Migrants Passing Through Mexico Will No Longer Be Eligible To Seek Asylum In The US

The US will end asylum protections for Central Americans and others who cross through Mexico to reach the southern border, the Trump administration announced Monday, a sweeping, unprecedented move that will quickly be challenged in court.

The new move, which bars asylum for any individual who crosses through a third country but does not apply there for protection before reaching the US southern border, takes effect Tuesday in the form of a regulatory change.

In a move that many are saying is illegal, Trump has moved to limit asylum protections for migrants from Central America.

Credit: @AP / Twitter

The Trump administration on Monday moved to dramatically limit the ability of Central American migrants to claim asylum if they enter the United States by land through Mexico, the latest attempt by the White House to limit immigration and toughen the US asylum process amid overcrowded conditions at border facilities.

The rule from the departments of Justice and Homeland Security would prohibit migrants who have resided or “transited en route” in a third country from seeking asylum in the US, therefore barring migrants traveling through Mexico from being able to claim asylum and as a result, drastically limit who’s eligible for asylum.

The new rule affects anyone who travels through a third country before seeking asylum in the US.

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It becomes the latest in a series of attempts by the Trump administration to actively deter asylum seekers from reaching the border. 

Many are saying that with this one rule change, the US is turning its back on the entire asylum process and likely breaking US and international law.

Many are describing the new rule as completely violating both US and international law.

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Lee Gelernt, the ACLU attorney who has led efforts to contest the Trump administration’s immigration policies in court, said the organization will challenge the new asylum rule, arguing that it is inconsistent with U.S. and international law.

“The administration is effectively trying to end asylum at the southern border,” Gelernt said. “The administration has already tried once to enact an asylum ban for individuals who cross between ports of entry and the courts struck it down because Congress has made a commitment to provide protection to individuals regardless of where they cross. The administration is now attempting an even broader bar on asylum based on which countries you transited through, but Congress made clear that it’s irrelevant whether you had to walk through other countries to get to safe haven in the United States.”

The ACLU and other immigrant’s rights organizations are already threatening immediate legal challenges.

The move is almost certain to trigger swift legal challenges, because the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) contains broad provisions allowing foreigners who reach US soil to apply for asylum if they claim a fear of persecution in their native countries.

An American Civil Liberties Union attorney who has been challenging Trump administration immigration policies in court said the organization would seek an injunction “immediately.”

Perhaps most disturbing, the rule change also affects unaccompanied minor children.

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Kids who come to the US border to seek asylum would now be forced to return to Mexico and first attempt a claim at asylum there.

Democratic officals pointed out the irony of Trump forcing migrants fleeing violence in their home country to seek asylum in a country he’s described as full of violence and rapists.

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Under US law, migrants are allowed to claim asylum once on US soil. There’s a caveat, however, for those who come through safe third countries, meaning countries that the US has entered into an agreement with.

The United Nations’ refugee agency defines “safe country,” in part, as “being countries in which refugees can enjoy asylum without any danger.”

But Trump’s own statements on Mexico could undercut that definition. In tweets, the President has called Mexico “one of the most dangerous country’s in the world” and claimed that the murder rate in the country has increased.

“The Coyotes and Drug Cartels are in total control of the Mexico side of the Southern Border. They have labs nearby where they make drugs to sell into the U.S. Mexico, one of the most dangerous country’s in the world, must eradicate this problem now. Also, stop the MARCH to U.S.” Trump tweeted in April.

Many took to Twitter to express their doubt about whether the president even understands how international treaties work.

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“This latest regulation is an attempt to close down one of the few remaining avenues for people in need of protection,” said Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel for the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“The only ray of light for those seeking safety is that Congress was clear when it enacted the asylum law and this attempt to circumvent it by regulation will likely see the same fate of other Trump administration attacks on the law and result in a federal court injunction.”

READ: After Being Denied Asylum By The US Some Migrants Are Returning Home With Mexico’s Help

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