Jul 15, 2019

Trump will make it harder for Central Americans to get asylum

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Trump administration is publishing a new rule on Tuesday that will force migrants fleeing their home countries to apply for asylum in one of the first countries they pass through, or face ineligibility for asylum once they reach the southern border of the U.S., according to a press release.

Why it matters: While there are certain exceptions, this will make it significantly more difficult for any Central Americans to receive protection in the U.S.

"Today's action will reduce the overwhelming burdens on our domestic system caused by asylum-seekers failing to seek urgent protection in the first available country, economic migrants lacking a legitimate fear of persecution, and the transnational criminal organizations, traffickers, and smugglers exploiting our system for profits."
— DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan in a statement

Between the lines: The rule has long been in the works, and will certainly face legal challenges. But a former DOJ immigration attorney told Axios that it's a "50-50" question as to whether the administration has authority to impose this kind of rule.

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Trump turning away victims of violence and trafficking

Data: USCIS, DOJ, RPC; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

The Trump administration is making it harder for immigrants fleeing violence, persecution and trafficking to stay in the U.S., in the name of getting tough on fraud.

The big picture: There are always cases of fraud in the immigration system, and not everyone who applies for asylum or the T visa, which is for victims of human trafficking, is eligible. But since Trump took office, visa denial rates for asylum and T visas have skyrocketed while the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. has plummeted.

Go deeperArrowJul 26, 2019

Trump asylum restrictions: ACLU files lawsuit challenging new rules

Central American migrants in Mexico, heading toward the U.S. Photo: Pep Companys/AFP/Getty Images

Civil rights and advocacy groups filed a federal lawsuit in California Tuesday against the Trump administration’s new policy to restrict asylum for migrants coming across the southern border, which it calls "unlawful."

Why it matters: The new rules could have a huge impact in limiting Central American migrants' asylum claims to the U.S. The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit on behalf of the groups, alleges the move would "significantly undermine, if not virtually repeal, the U.S. asylum system at the southern border, and cruelly closes our doors to refugees fleeing persecution."

Go deeperArrowJul 16, 2019

Federal judge blocks Trump's new asylum restrictions

U.S. Border Patrol detaining and processing a group of migrants. Photo: Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images

A California federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on Wednesday to block the Trump administration from denying asylum to migrants at the southern border who do not first apply for protections in at least one other country they've traveled through.

Why it matters: This ruling came hours after a D.C. federal district judge allowed the administration's new rule to stand. The rule would all but block Central Americans from asylum.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jul 25, 2019