Trump’s new asylum rules defy US, international law

Trump’s new asylum rules defy US, international law

By Luke Vargas   
Published
Members of the U.S. Army deploy concertina wire above a border checkpoint near Hidalgo, Texas. November 2, 2018. Courtesy: U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Members of the U.S. Army deploy concertina wire above a border checkpoint near Hidalgo, Texas. November 2, 2018. Courtesy: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

NEW YORK – President Trump ordered Friday that migrants crossing illegally into the U.S. via the Mexican border “be ineligible to be granted asylum,” claiming America’s immigration system suffers from an “overloading” that’s only getting worse.

That presidential proclamation is already facing legal challenge and may well be struck down.

Angelo Guisado is a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights:

“The statute governing who can apply for asylum and where, 8 U.S. Code § 1158, is very clear that an individual who states a credible fear of return to their home country can apply whether or not they apply at a port of entry, or if they cross between ports of entry.”

Christy Delafield, the director of communications at Mercy Corps, says America’s international legal obligations are just as unambiguous.

“According to the 1967 Refugee Protocol, to which the United States is a party, asylum seekers have the right to present themselves at the border and request protection.”

The White House argues asylum seekers can still present their claims at official border crossings, but that too has become increasingly difficult. Some prospective asylum seekers at a crossing near San Diego have been told to wait five weeks. Others in Texas have been turned away after simply stating their country of origin.

So much for the “big beautiful door in the wall” that President Trump touted for those wishing to enter the U.S. legally.

And even if Trump’s new rule is eventually blocked, Delafield says real harm can still befall those seeking asylum protection:

“In the meantime, this proclamation impacts the lives of real people. Somebody, somewhere who should have the right to seek asylum is going to present themselves at a border crossing – informal, irregular – they may be denied due process, and you can’t take that back. That impacts someone’s life forever.”

Guisado agrees and says asylum seekers who attempt illegal border crossings will be hit particularly hard.

“It’s doubly bad. So these people will have not only criminal convictions but now their humanitarian protections have been stripped away.”

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