The Trump administration is considering a proposal that would bar asylum for those who transit through a third country, a potential major escalation in the administration’s attempts to deter asylum seekers, according to sources close to the administration.
The proposal, included in a draft interim final rule from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, would represent just the latest in multiple attempts by the Trump administration to discourage asylum-seekers from trying to enter the United States. Previous moves, such as banning asylum for those who crossed the border between ports of entry, were blocked by the courts, and this effort, if finalized, would likely face a court challenge also.
Language in the proposal, which was described to BuzzFeed News, claims that migrants coming to the US transit through not just one country but through multiple countries in which they can seek some protection but do not make themselves available to that option despite their fears.
It includes an additional limitation on eligibility: those seeking asylum will be found ineligible if they have entered or attempted to enter the US after failing to apply for asylum or other protections in any country that is not the country of origin for the migrant and that they went through to get to the US.
Administration officials have repeatedly blamed a federal court settlement that block authorities from detaining families for longer than a few weeks.
Pierce said the proposal being considered by the administration would do nothing to stop the issues with the asylum system.
“Rather than do the hard work of fixing our outdated asylum system, this administration is just further incentivizing migrants to rush the southern border. By this point, they must know that these harsh and legally dubious actions will do nothing but feed the chaos,” she said.
Ur Jaddou, a former chief counsel at USCIS, said the proposal was cruel. “It will do nothing to address the challenge except to exacerbate it. Central Americans are fleeing a burning house. Slamming the door shut on them and pretending there is no burning house and fleeing people will do nothing to solve the problem.”
Earlier this year, the Trump administration enacted a policy that forces Central American migrants to remain in Mexico as their asylum cases proceed through the courts. As of last week, some 6,000 migrants had been pushed into the program. The proposal has thus far survived a legal challenge brought forth by the ACLU earlier this year.
After being blocked by a federal court judge in San Francisco in April, a US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel allowed it to remain in place as the case proceeded, a major victory for the administration.
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