President Donald Trump on Friday imposed new rules giving himself the authority to deny asylum to any immigrant who crosses the border illegally for the next 90 days. The new policy would require immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to enter through a port of entry or face deportation from border patrol.
The rules were a followup to incendiary statements the president made at the White House last week, alleging that immigrants fleeing life-threatening situations in their countries of origin are making false asylum claims at the US border.
“The biggest loophole drawing illegal aliens to our borders is the use of fraudulent or meritless asylum claims to gain entry into our great country,” the president said on Thursday of last week.
“An alien simply crosses the border illegally, finds a Border Patrol agent, and using well-coached language — by lawyers and others that stand there trying to get fees or whatever they can get — they’re given a phrase to read,” Trump said.
“They never heard of the phrase before. They don’t believe in the phrase. But they’re given a little legal statement to read, and they read it. And now, all of a sudden, they’re supposed to qualify.”
While enforcing rules on border crossings sounds like common sense, there are a number of reasons why undocumented immigrants cross the border between ports of entry.
For one thing, migrants seeking asylum are routinely being told to come back at a later date. Ports of entry also are increasingly crowded, with long lines. Sometimes the closest port of entry is miles away and migrants are just desperate to enter the U.S. after weeks of traveling. And cccasionally, smugglers or cartel members will block ports of entry, creating a perilous a situation for migrants.
The policy already is having an effect on migrants lawfully presenting themselves at ports of entry. Asylum processing at one of the busiest ports of entry along the southern border was shut down Friday at 1 p.m., leaving families with nowhere to go.
Mex imm official announced no more asylum seekers allowed into San Ysidro port today. Asked asylum seekers to clear plaza but said all migrant shelters are full. Several families w/infants and children say they don’t know where to go.
— Kennji Kizuka (@KennjiKizuka) November 9, 2018
Both the new rule on asylum seekers and the Muslim ban imposed early in Trump’s administration rules were signed under the same provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act which states that the president “may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has already filed a lawsuit challenging the administration’s new asylum policy. “The new asylum ban is flatly unlawful and may result in many people being sent back to danger,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project in a statement. “Neither the President nor the Attorney General may override the immigration laws enacted by Congress.”
As if preventing thousands of asylum seekers from entering the U.S. weren’t enough of an attack on immigrants, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced this week that it would expand the range of visas types that would be issued a “notice to appear” — a document which initiates deportation proceedings — if there is evidence of fraud or criminal activity.
Some less-publicized news with legal immigration implications: USCIS is expanding the range of visa types that will be issued a “notice to appear” (which initiates deportations proceedings) when denied https://t.co/DTI1wGj9rU pic.twitter.com/la5jduKKEc
— Ted Hesson (@tedhesson) November 9, 2018
According to Politico, on November 19, USCIS may begin deportation proceedings for individuals with visas awarded to victims of domestic violence or human trafficking — a move immigration advocates worry would prevent victims from coming forward with their stories of abuse for fear that it might lead to their deportation.
While the administration is publicly concerned with firing disloyal cabinet members and ensuring every midterm election vote isn’t counted in Florida and Georgia, it is important not to lose sight of the ways in which it is limiting immigration to the whitest, wealthiest, and most-educated.