New Trump rule would redefine who qualifies for refuge in U.S.
The Trump administration launched a series of proposed restrictions on the country's asylum system on Wednesday that would be one of the most far-reaching attempts to redefine who qualifies for a safe haven on U.S. soil.
A 161-page proposal from the Department of Justice and Homeland Security would create additional obstacles at all stages of the US asylum process and give officials and judges more power to reject applications for protection. It would make it more difficult, if not impossible, for foreigners to take refuge in certain forms of persecution, including gender-based violence, gang threats, and torture by "rogue" government officials.
The draft rule is to be officially published in the federal government's regulatory journal on Monday. After that, the public has 30 days to comment. The government will then work to publish a final regulation that may or may not be changed in response to public comments.
The impact of the regime on humanitarian programs on the southern border depends on when it comes into force, as the government has rapidly expelled most unauthorized migrants from there since late March. However, if it came into force, the proposed changes would rewrite several regulations and affect cases of new cross-border commuters and asylum seekers who are already in the United States.
"When this regulation is finalized and implemented, many legitimate asylum seekers will be denied access to shelter in the United States," Sarah Pierce, policy analyst at the non-partisan Institute for Migration Policy, told CBS News. "There are so many regulations here that even the most deserving asylum seekers are unable to go through the US asylum process."
Under US law, foreigners can apply for asylum if they can show that they have been persecuted in their home countries because of their race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or belonging to a "particular social environment" or have a reasonable fear of persecution. "Migrants, including those who cross the border without a permit, can apply for asylum and other lesser forms of protection to block their deportation.
The Trump administration has argued that Central American migrants in search of better economic opportunities have used these humanitarian programs to provide easy access to the United States. Over the past three and a half years, the government has introduced a number of restrictions to limit access to these safeguards, which officials have said are lacunae.
Implementation of the proposed changes, the government said in its proposal, would help officials "filter out non-deserving claims and focus limited resources on claims that are more likely to be deserving".
The rule would require immigration judges to generally reject asylum cases of people who fear to be persecuted in their home countries based on their gender or resistance to recruitment and coercion by gangs, guerrillas, terrorists and other non-governmental groups.
The definition of persecution would be changed to "an extreme concept of serious harm". The persecution, among other threats and ill-treatment, would not include "any case of harm generally resulting from civil, criminal or military conflict in a country," nor "any treatment that the United States considers unfair, offensive, unjust." or even unlawful or unconstitutional. "
Even if migrants were given the burden of proof of asylum, the rule would encourage immigration judges to refuse to provide relief to applicants who illegally crossed the border or attempted to cross the border without working without authorization or using fraudulent travel documents. Unlike the lesser forms of protection against deportation, asylum is at your discretion, which means that a judge can deny protection to anyone, including people who can demonstrate that they could be persecuted when they return to their home countries.
The judges would also need to consider other adverse factors, including travel to a third country to get to the United States, more than a year of undocumented living in the country, and criminal convictions that have been cleared or deleted.
Under the proposal, protection under the United Nations Convention against Torture would no longer be available to people who were physically or mentally tortured by "rogue" government officials "who are not acting under the color of the law".
Other proposed changes to the rule include making it more difficult for migrants who are forbidden to apply for asylum to pass interviews that qualify for relief under the United Nations Anti-Torture Convention or "withholding deportation" , the other lesser form of protection. In recent years, the government has implemented various policies to exclude most U.S. migrants, including those who have traveled through a third country such as Mexico, to reach the southern border.
The proposal would also broaden the definition of a "frivolous" application to give judges and asylum officials more scope to refuse "apparently unfounded or otherwise abusive claims".
Pierce, the immigration expert, said the regulation was one of several "layers" of asylum restrictions that the administration had developed to mitigate unfavorable decisions in federal courts that had hampered its agenda. She said the proposed rule could be one of the tools that the administration uses to deter migrants after the public health regime, which officials identify as most cross-border commuters, has been lifted.
The government has said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Designation Policy is designed to block the entry of migrants who could spread the coronavirus in the United States. At an event held by the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday, Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Ken Cuccinelli said the directive, which has been extended indefinitely, would be "agenda for a while" as there is no coronavirus vaccine.
Pierce said Wednesday's proposal would not achieve its stated purpose of cutting unfounded asylum applications. "If they sincerely wanted to deter less than legitimate asylum applications, they would try to process asylum applications fairly and efficiently, rather than creating obstacles every step of the way."
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