Some vulnerable asylum seekers will now be barred by the Trump administration from applying for life-saving protection, under a series of anti-immigrant actions that groups have already pledged to challenge in court. “Starting at midnight tonight, and for the next 90 days,” Vox’s Dara Lind reports, “adults and families who cross the US/Mexico border without papers will not be eligible for asylum unless they wait at ports of entry—official border crossings. A presidential order signed by Trump Friday morning made the new policy official.”
The administration wants to force asylum seekers to “overloaded” ports of entry, which will intentionally result in longer waits—weeks, perhaps even months—on the Mexican side of the border. Some may choose to give up their attempt altogether and return to their home countries, or attempt to stay in Mexico. But “under international law,” Lind continues, “asylum-seekers are permitted to make a claim regardless of where they enter.” Since when, however, has the administration ever cared about the law, especially when it works against its anti-immigrant interests?
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has successfully challenged the administration on hateful, anti-immigrant policies like child separation, is set to sue. "U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. "The proposal is patently unlawful and there will be a court challenge," said Lee Gelernt, the project’s deputy director.
But the administration also, “according to Julia Ainsley of NBC, thinks it’s going to prevail with the newly ensconced conservative majority on the Supreme Court,” Lind says. “It might be right. But it’s going to be a closer call, on the law, than the travel ban was. It’s the riskiest fight, legally speaking, the administration has picked yet.” The move comes as Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was fired this week, in Trump’s blatant attempt to kill Robert Mueller’s investigation. Sessions took vast steps, under his former office’s power, to stomp on the asylum process. While he’s now gone, his battle continues.
“It is shameful that Donald Trump continues to attack the brave families who are making their way to the southern border fleeing violence and persecution,” said Kica Matos of The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM). “Days ago, the nation issued a referendum on his divisive and racist rhetoric; yet, today he recklessly pushed his anti-immigrant agenda further by attacking asylum policies. This administration continues to endanger border communities by militarizing the border and threatening the most vulnerable people.”