The Trump administration will make new government regulations that will overhaul the U.S. asylum system drastically limiting eligibility for migrants at the border.
The Justice Department and Homeland Security should publish the changes this week while they are slated to go into effect on Jan. 9, a few days before Trump leaves office.
“The Final Rule, consistent with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), will enable the departments to more effectively separate baseless claims from meritorious ones,” the DHS and the DOJ wrote in a statement.
“This will better ensure groundless claims do not delay or divert resources from deserving claims, and in particular, will better ensure the security of our nation’s borders by facilitating the efficient review of claims in a manner consistent with the law and the integrity of our immigration system.”
Whereas refugees seek admission to the United States while still in a country of origin, asylum seekers travel to the U.S. border and then seek help. Migrants may seek asylum at a border crossing where vehicles and pedestrians can cross, or they may claim to have a fear of being deported home even after being arrested for illegally entering the country.
As of mid-2020, more than 300,000 people who have been in the U.S. for less than one year have asylum applications pending before USCIS and hundreds of thousands of more have cases pending in immigration court.
The new policies automatically disqualify migrants who have passed through two countries or anyone who stayed in another country for two or more weeks before arriving at the U.S. border, making all migrants except Canadians, Guatemalans, and Mexicans ineligible.
They would also block requests from anyone who has been illegally living in the U.S. for more than a year, as well as anyone in the country who failed to pay taxes, paid taxes late, or failed to report income made in the U.S. to the Internal Revenue Service.
The new rule changes the U.S. definition of asylum. The DHS agency U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at present defines legitimate asylum seekers as people who are “seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”
The government will do away with the grounds that recipients have been targeted because of gender or been targeted by a gang, the latter of which is often cited by Central American migrants who flee MS-13 and other extremely violent transnational criminal organizations in the region. The new policy defines “persecution” as “extreme” harm.
All asylum seekers under the age of 18 who are from countries other than Mexico will be penalized for not applying in other countries while traveling to the U.S. southern border.
Immigration judges will gain the ability to deny an asylum claim without holding a formal hearing if the application for asylum does not provide adequate evidence for the claim.