There are some exceptions: If someone has been trafficked, if the country the migrant passed through did not sign one of the major international treaties that govern how refugees are managed (though most Western countries have signed them) or if an asylum-seeker sought protection in a country but was denied, then a migrant could still apply for U.S. asylum.
But the move by President Donald Trump’s administration was meant to essentially end asylum protections as they now are on the southern border.
The policy is almost certain to face a legal challenge. U.S. law allows refugees to request asylum when they arrive at the U.S. regardless of how they did so, but there is an exception for those who have come through a country considered to be “safe.” But the Immigration and Nationality Act, which governs asylum law, is vague on how a country is determined “safe”; it says “pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral agreement.”
Right now, the U.S. has such an agreement, known as a “safe third country,” only with Canada. Under a recent agreement with Mexico, Central American countries were considering a regional compact on the issue, but nothing has been decided. Guatemalan officials were expected in Washington on Monday, but apparently a meeting between Trump and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales was canceled amid a court challenge in Guatemala over whether the country could agree to a safe third with the U.S.
WATCH: Asylum-seeker tells House she came to U.S. seeking safety, but watched her daughter die
The new rule also will apply to the initial asylum screening, known as a “credible fear” interview, at which migrants must prove they have credible fears of returning to their home country. It applies to migrants who are arriving to the U.S., not those who are already in the country.
Trump administration officials say the changes are meant to close the gap between the initial asylum screening that most people pass and the final decision on asylum that most people do not win. But immigrant rights groups, religious leaders and humanitarian groups have said the Republican administration’s policies amount to a cruel and calloused effort to keep immigrants out of the country. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are poor countries suffering from violence.
Along with the administration’s recent effort to send asylum seekers back over the border, Trump has tried to deny asylum to anyone crossing the border illegally and restrict who can claim asylum, and Attorney General William Barr recently tried to keep thousands of asylum seekers detained while their cases play out.
Nearly all of those efforts have been blocked by courts.
Meanwhile, conditions have worsened for migrants who make it over the border seeking better lives. Tens of thousands of Central American migrant families cross the border each month, many claiming asylum. The numbers have increased despite Trump’s derisive rhetoric and hard-line immigration policies. Border facilities have been dangerously cramped and crowded well beyond capacity. The Department of Homeland Security’s watchdog found fetid, filthy conditions for many children. And lawmakers who traveled there recently decried conditions .
Immigration courts are backlogged by more than 800,000 cases, meaning many people won’t have their asylum claims heard for years despite move judges being hired.
People are generally eligible for asylum in the U.S. if they feared return to their home country because they would be persecuted based on race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social group.
During the budget year for 2009, there were 35,811 asylum claims, and 8,384 were granted. During 2018 budget year, there were 162,060 claims filed, and 13,168 were granted.
Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.
By Colleen Long, Associated Press
The newly-elected MEP used her maiden speech in the European Parliament to say that “Britain is right to be leaving this place”.
Nigel Farage facing some stiff competition as chief clown of the Brexit Party in the
@Europarl_EN. By the way, when Widdecombe talks about “colonies liberating themselves from their empires”, is she really referring to the American Revolution of 1776?
“There is a pattern consistent throughout history of oppressed people turning on the oppressors. Slaves against their owners. The peasantry against the feudal barons.” Brexit Party MEP Ann Widdecombe makes her maiden speech in the European Parliament.
Widdecombe gives her 1st EP speech & it’s fiery: ‘If I needed any convincing at all the best thing for Britain is to leave here ASAP it was the way those elections were conducted. If that’s this place’s idea of democracy that’s a serious betrayal of every country represented…
‘It’s not democratic at all and that is just one of many reasons why Britain is right to be leaving this place, hopefully on Halloween. It is right because there is a pattern consistent throughout history of oppressed people turning on the oppressors…
‘Slaves against their owners, the peasantry against the feudal barons, colonies Mr Verhofstadt against their empires, and that is why Britain is leaving. And it doesn’t matter which language you use – we are going and we are glad to be going…
‘I represent the South West of the UK and I found on my first day that this place, at least the powers that be, have decided to actually increase the size of fishermen’s meshes, thereby reducing their income by 40%. That’s what you do here…
…Widdecome signs off to cheers from her Brexit party MEPs and noisy heckles from the rest of the chamber: ‘That’s why we’re going. Nous allons. Wir gehen. We’re off!’
The great Ann Widdecombe kicks off for
@brexitparty_uk in the chamber of the European Parliament today, the 4th July. We voted for our independence from this Empire – we want it now
Ari Melber on Donald Trump’s new Department of Justice (DOJ) powers: ‘This is not normal’|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA||
Democrats in the House flexing oversight power against President Trump announcing new hearings on the Mueller report and a new, separate vote to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress. This action coming as Democrats debate how to punish Trump aides stonewalling investigations — even calling for arrests.
MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent, Ari Melber, breaks down President Trump’s unprecedented move strengthening Attorney General Barr’s hand in reviewing the Mueller probe. Why Barr now increasingly looks like the most powerful figure in the Trump administration;