The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security have adopted a rule intended to prevent an incoming caravan of thousands of migrants from claiming asylum in the United States. The DHS-DOJ asylum regulation was released on Thursday night, and cites multiple legal regulations that the administration says gives President Trump the authority to brand their claims for asylum as baseless.
The adoption of the regulation was one of the first official acts of Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker since President Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday.
“Consistent with our immigration laws, the president has the broad authority to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens into the United States if he determines it to be in the national interest to do so,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Whitaker said in a joint statement. “Today’s rule applies this important principle to aliens who violate such a suspension or restriction regarding the southern border imposed by the President by invoking an express authority provided by Congress to restrict eligibility for asylum.”
DOJ and DHS Issue New Asylum Rule https://t.co/5O26DCt0VH
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) November 8, 2018
The asylum rule says that aliens who unlawfully cross the border or falsely claim asylum because of fear or persecution from their home countries will not be admitted.
“DHS is amending its regulations to specify a screening process for aliens who are subject to this specific bar to asylum eligibility. DOJ is amending its regulations with respect to such aliens,” the regulation says. “In recent weeks, United States officials have each day encountered an average of approximately 2,000 inadmissible aliens at the southern border.”
“At the same time, large caravans of thousands of aliens, primarily from Central America, are attempting to make their way to the United States, with the apparent intent of seeking asylum after entering the United States unlawfully or without proper documentation.”
The American Civil Liberties Union questioned the legality of the regulation.
“U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree.”
FACT: US law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry.
It is illegal to circumvent that — by agency or presidential decree. https://t.co/vVRdFEQ1qX
— ACLU (@ACLU) November 8, 2018
DHS sent out a press release on Friday defending the regulation, and said that Americans “do not want an immigration system that allows for mass unchecked illegal immigration.”
“President Trump is using the authority granted to him by the Immigration and Nationality Act to manage and protect the integrity of our immigration system and our national sovereignty,” the release said. “We accept far more refugees referred from the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees than any other country in the world. From Fiscal Year 2008 to Fiscal Year 2017, the United States gave Lawful Permanent Resident status to 1,761,927 individuals, which is larger than twelve states, including the District of Columbia. We are a nation that believes in the rule of law.”
DHS cited section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act:
“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he 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.”
Section 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act was also cited:
“Unless otherwise ordered by the President, it shall be unlawful for any alien to depart from or enter or attempt to depart from or enter the United States except under such reasonable rules, regulations, and orders, and subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President may prescribe.”
Earlier Indication from the White House
Last week, the president said that the claims for asylum from the caravan, which has proceeded from Central America into southern Mexico, were illegitimate in light of Mexico’s offer of asylum.
“The government of Mexico has generously offered asylum, jobs, education and medical care for people within the caravan, but many members of the caravan have refused these offers, which demonstrate that these migrants are not legitimate asylum-seekers,” Trump said in the Roosevelt Room. “They’re not looking for protection. Because if they were, they’d be able to get it from Mexico. Mexico has agreed to take them in and encouraged them to stay. But they don’t want to stay; they want to come into the United States. So this is no longer safety, and asylum is about safety.
“Asylum is not a program for those living in poverty. There are billions of people in the world living at the poverty level. The United States cannot possibly absorb them all. Asylum is a very special protection intended only for those fleeing government persecution based on race, religion and other protected status,” Trump said.
The White House claims the immigration problem is getting worse, and released the following figures on Nov. 1.
- Approximately one in 10 illegal aliens arriving at the southern border claims a credible fear of return, up from one out of every 100 prior to 2013.
- Asylum requests at the southern border have recently increased from 1,500 per week to approximately 2,000 per week.
- In FY 2018, USCIS received approximately 106,000 new asylum requests from those admitted legally, compared to only 25,500 in 2008.
- Immigration courts received approximately 160,000 asylum requests in FY 2018, compared to only 42,000 in FY 2008.
- The amount of fentanyl seized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in FY 2017 (2,370 pounds) was enough to kill every American citizen by overdose.
- United States Border Patrol apprehended 18,411 unaccompanied minors at the southern border in 2010, compared to 50,036 in 2018.
- The number of aliens claiming credible fear of persecution in their home countries has spiked by over 1700 percent since 2010.
- Family unit apprehensions at the southern border have increased by 620 percent since 2013, from 14,855 to 107,212.
The White House said the data shows that few asylum claims are credible, and that in fiscal year 2018, only 15 percent of migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were granted asylum. The administration also said Democrats and “activist judges” are responsible for “catch-and-release loopholes” that are obstructing a solution to comprehensive immigration reform.