Trump Administration Attempts to Modify Rules for Asylum Seekers

The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act states that any foreigner who arrives in the United States of America, "whether or not at a designated port of arrival," may apply for asylum. On November 9, 2018 President Trump tried to modify the law, signing a presidential proclamation ending the ability of immigrants to request asylum if they enter the country illegally. According to the proclamation, only those who entered the country through a port of entry would be eligible. The number of a

sylum applications has skyrocketed in recent years, from 5,000 in 2008 to 97,000 in 2018, mostly fueled by Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries.

Since being elected the President has been frustrated by the number of immigrants crossing the border illegally from Mexico. Today's border crossers are more likely to be families and children from Central America. For legal reasons, they are more difficult to expel than the single adults from Mexico who made up the bulk of border crossers a generation ago. Many of the Central American migrants seek asylum once they arrive in the U.S., claiming fear of persecution if they return home. Administration officials say that while most asylum-seekers pass their initial screening test, many never actually file an asylum claim.

The administration wants to modify the asylum provision in U.S. immigration law by using the president's broad authority to exclude any immigrant — or class of immigrants — deemed "detrimental to the interests of the United States." But on November 19, 2018 a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to continue accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they entered the United States. Judge Jon S. Tigar of the United States District Court issued a temporary restraining order that blocks the government from carrying out a new rule that denies protections to people who enter the country illegally.

According to administration officials Trump has the authority to institute the new rule in the same way he had authority to implement a travel ban to people from mainly Muslim countries. However, according to U.S. law the government must accept all asylum claims. Immigration advocates have sued, stating that his administration is putting people’s lives in danger and his proposed changes are illegal. Trump wants to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico while their immigration court hearings play out, and the incoming Mexican government supports it, according to the Washington Post. However, experts claim that this may be impossible under current law.

The Trump administration believes that migrants are exploiting asylum laws to immigrate illegally to the United States. According to administration official, many migrants skip their court date, only to remain illegally in the country. Advocates argue that many migrants are victims of violence or persecution and are entitled to seek sanctuary. The new rules proposed by the Trump administration would bar those who enter illegally from making an asylum claim and place them into expedited deportation proceedings instead. The court’s ruling blocked the administration from enforcing the new rules until the court case continues December 19, 2018.

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