The Trump administration on Monday said it would take steps to make it more difficult for immigrants arriving on the southern border to seek asylum in the United States, putting the onus on them to ask for shelter in other countries.
The Department of Homeland Security, in a statement issued with the Department of Justice, said the interim 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 proposal would make it tougher for applicants who did not apply for protection from persecution or torture where it was available in at least one “third country” through which they traveled en route to the United States.
The Trump administration wants to slow down a flow of asylum seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexican border. Most are Central Americans who have traveled through Mexico and Guatemala on the way to the border, though some come from as far as Africa.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said the initiative would “help reduce a major ‘pull’ factor driving irregular migration to the United States.”
But the administration’s action was immediately challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union. “The Trump administration is trying to unilaterally reverse our country’s legal and moral commitment to protect those fleeing danger. This new rule is patently unlawful and we will sue swiftly,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
And it was unclear how other countries through which migrants pass would react.