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Trump Issues Stricter Asylum Rules Through Presidential Proclamation as Caravan Leaves Mexico City on Foot
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9 Nov 2018 02:12 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer, Image: White House website logo (Image source: Twitter)

 

Thursday the country was informed that the Trump administration was introducing stricter asylum rules to migrants who enter the country illegally. Friday we got a hint as to what those rules were with the president's tweet of a presidential proclamation. As this is being said, the migrant caravan is departing Mexico City on foot, after not being able to secure buses.

 

Thursday's news from senior administration officials said that the new restrictions would invoke the same authorities Donald Trump used in his "travel ban" that was knocked down in court several times. 

It's expected that these measures will also face legal challenges with immigrant advocacy groups insisting that existing laws are clear in extending asylum protections to anyone who reaches the border holding fears of persecution, no matter how they choose to enter the country.

 

Administration officials counter the new restrictions are a reasonable response to the current immigration situation with what they see as frivolous asylum claims. They add that the Supreme Court has upheld Trump's broad executive powers in these matters. 

"Those we enter the country between "official" ports of entry — i.e. illegally — are knowingly and voluntarily breaking the law," an administration official was quoted as saying.

 

"So it's just important to remind everybody that while all immigration laws do afford people various forms of protection, the reality is that it's a violation of federal law to enter our country in the manner that these illegal aliens are entering the country." 

"Our nation is experiencing an unprecedented crisis on our Southern Border," added the Department of Homeland Security in a statement. "Low standards for claiming a fear of persecution have allowed aliens with meritless claims to illegally enter our country, claim 'credible fear,' and then in many cases be released pending lengthy proceedings."

 

Omar Jadwat, American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project's director, counters the administration, stating, "Congress very specifically said you can apply for asylum if you arrive in the United States regardless of whether you're at a port of entry. They clearly and explicitly meant to make asylum available to anyone who reaches the United States." 

Adding that ACLU attorneys have been assuming new measures were on the way and reviewing legal options, Jadwat added, "If the president doesn't like what the law says, the way to address it is to get Congress to pass a new one."

 

Friday morning, Trump tweeted, "Presidential Proclamation Addressing Mass Migration Through the Southern Border of the United States," with an attached article detailing what these new rules are, stating that they were issued on November 9, 2018. 

"The United States expected the arrival at the border between the United States and Mexico (southern border) of a substantial number of aliens primarily from Central America who appear to have no lawful basis for admission into your country," starts the proclamation.

 

It goes on to say these large, organized groups intend to enter the country "unlawfully or without proper documentation and to seek asylum," despite knowing it won't be granted. 

It adds that many of these migrants entered Mexico unlawfully, — "some with violence" — and that they have turned down the chance to have asylum in Mexico.

 

"The arrival of large numbers of aliens will contribute to the overloading of our immigration and asylum system and to the release of thousands of aliens into the interior of the United States," reports the proclamation, adding that this "undermines the integrity of our borders." 

"I, therefore, must take immediate action to protect the national interest and to maintain the effectiveness of the asylum system for legitimate asylum seekers who demonstrate that they have fled persecution and warrant the many special benefits associated with asylum."

 

The proclamation also stated that "approximately 2,000 inadmissible aliens" have crossed the border in recent weeks and that in the Fiscal Year 2018, there have been 124,511 aliens at the border who were "inadmissible," with 396,579 apprehended entering unlawfully.  

It also asserts that two decades ago most aliens were single adults who returned to Mexico and "very few asserted a fear of return." However,  there's now been a "massive increase" in those expressing fear of persecution or torture. The majority are found to satisfy the threshold, but only a fraction ultimately qualify for asylum or protection.

 

The proclamation goes on to explain these aliens are often released into the U.S., leading to a lack of detention space and other difficulties, pending adjudication of their claims. It can take years to complete, and "many released aliens fail to appear before hearings, do not comply with subsequent orders of removal, or are difficult to locate and remove." 

After the trouble with the zero tolerance policy that led to family separations earlier this year which was eventually reversed, the proclamation also admits that "family units pose particular challenges." With many released into the U.S., it's only increased the amount of families migrating to the U.S.

 

After noting the measures that former President Ronald Reagan and former President George H.W. Bush took, Trump says in the proclamation, "I am similarly acting to suspend, for a limited period, the entry of certain aliens in order to address the problem." 

He contends he is "tailoring the suspension to channel these aliens to ports of entry, so that, if they enter the United States, they do so in an orderly and controlled manner instead of unlawfully."

 

From his verbage, it sounds as if aliens reaching the U.S. at proper ports of entry and expressing asylum wishes will be processed. Those who don't enter lawfully will be ineligible under regulations supported by the attorney general and secretary of Homeland Security.  

However, it's unknown whether Trump's rules and requests will even reach this large throng of migrants in the caravan. They were planning to leave Mexico City early Friday — on foot after not being able to procure buses. Supporters say the group is looking to enter through Tijuana, a safer route, though further away.

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