Trump erects another barrier to immigrants seeking U.S. asylum

Vastavam web: The Trump administration on Monday unveiled a new rule to bar almost all immigrants from applying for asylum at the southern border, requiring them to first pursue safe haven in a third country through which they had travelled on the way to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, in a statement issued with the Department of Justice, said the rule would set a “new bar” for immigrants “by placing further restrictions or limitations on eligibility for aliens who seek asylum in the United States.”

The American Civil Liberties Union called the new rule “patently unlawful” and vowed to file a lawsuit against it, while a host of experts also questioned its legality. The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said it was “deeply concerned” about the measure, saying it would “put vulnerable families at risk” and undermine international efforts to find a coordinated solution.

Designated an “interim final rule,” the measure goes into effect on Tuesday, potentially shifting the burden onto poorly equipped countries like Mexico and Guatemala to process asylum claims. The rule would make it all but impossible for asylum-seekers to gain legal entry to the United States unless they first apply for asylum in a “third country.” U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Trump administration had overreached its authority and violated the law.

“The President is devastating lives, dishonouring our values and departing from decades of precedent and law in his haste to destroy the lifeline of asylum in America,” Pelosi said in a statement. Trump on Monday declared “very successful” what he had billed as a sweeping operation to arrest undocumented immigrants this past weekend. U.S. authorities launched small-scale operations aimed at about 2,000 recently arrived families in about 10 cities.

The operations come as the Trump administration faces criticism for housing immigrants in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions, and there are concerns about migrant children being separated from adults by U.S. authorities. The administration says U.S. capacity to process asylum claims has been overwhelmed due to an influx of people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador but also increasingly from Cuba and countries as far away as Africa and India.