The Trump administration announced new restrictions on asylum applications from immigrants traveling to the US through Mexico, the latest move in an immigration crackdown.
According to a new rule added to the Federal Register, asylum seekers who pass through another “safe” country en route to the United States will be ineligible for asylum at the US border. The rule is expected to come into effect on Thursday.
Though there are some exceptions, the rule looks likely to end the procession of Central American migrants journeying through Mexico to the US to claim asylum. 2018 saw several thousands-strong ‘caravans’ of Central American migrants stream towards the US’ southern border, with US authorities processing nearly 100,000 asylum claims at the frontier, and arresting a total of 521,000 illegal immigrants.
Though the new rule comes days after the Trump administration instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to conduct sweeping deportation raids in major cities, President Donald Trump has been weighing its introduction since May. As an interim measure, the rule is likely to be challenged in the courts.
At present, immigration courts are backlogged by more than 800,000 cases, meaning most asylum seekers will have to wait months or years for a decision on their claims. President Trump has railed against the current system that sees immigrants released into the US to await their court date, and called on Democrats in Congress to “fix the loopholes” in the country’s immigration law.
Democrats, however, have clashed with the Trump administration over conditions at its overcrowded detention facilities. A Department of Homeland Security report released earlier this month found near double overcrowding, sick detainees, and a shortage of food and hygiene products. After touring the facilities, Democratic lawmakers, including hotshot New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, decried the conditions within.
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