On Thursday, the Trump administration announced that they have implemented new restrictions on migrants seeking asylum in the United States, citing an “overwhelmed” asylum system, reports the Guardian.
The new regulation is being criticized by experts who claim that it violates immigration laws. Under the restriction, people can only apply for asylum at official entry points along the U.S.-Mexico border. However, according to the Immigration and Nationality Act, “any person can apply for asylum whether or not at a designated port of arrival.”
Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council, commented on the administration’s attempt to implement an illegal immigration restriction.
“In its rush to obstruct asylum seekers, the administration is attempting an end run around the law. Congress has spoken clearly. Individuals are not required to ask for asylum at a port of entry. Any person in the United States must have access to the asylum process.”
Since the end of World War II, the United States has defined immigration policies that explicitly accept asylum applicants who fear persecution in their home countries due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
However, the Trump administration reportedly has a history of attempting to change these immigration policies by designing illegal immigration restrictions that are later thrown out in court. In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections that took place this past Tuesday, Trump used the approaching migrant caravan from Central America as a way to raise alarm about an “invasion” from immigrants.
Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
From 2011 to 2016, just under 40,000 Mexican and Central American migrants applied for asylum in the United States, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (Trac). While the rejection rate for these applicants was 80 percent, data also reveals that the United States received 35,000 applications from Chinese asylum seekers, of which only 22 percent were rejected.
Tom Jawetz, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, also commented on the new restrictions.
“While the administration clearly felt an urgent need to politicize the plight of a group of people – mostly mothers and children – traveling slowly through Mexico in advance of Tuesday’s midterm elections, that hardly provides the urgency needed to justify putting this cruel policy in place without first hearing from the public.
“With the Trump administration, it’s useful to remember that as much as they embrace fear-mongering and anti-immigrant bias for their perceived political benefits, they are also committed to furthering an anti-immigrant and anti-refugee agenda every single day.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker both signed the new Trump policy.