Last week President Trump and his administration, in their continued efforts to reduce the number of migrants entering the United States’ southern border, ruled that each migrant wishing to apply for asylum in the US must first apply in at least one other country on the way to the US.
However, Democrats and several agencies have complained about the new policy, calling it “inhumane” as White House hopeful Beto O’Rourke says.
One such agency, the American Civil Liberties Union, decided to sue the administration over the issue, taking it to a San Francisco court. On Wednesday it was sent to Washington for review, where two advocacy organizations, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services and Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition filed separately on the issue for a restraining order to block the measure.
According to the liberal-backed groups, Attorney General William P. Barr had overstepped his authority by issuing the rule. In addition, they argued that merely traveling through a country should not make a migrant ineligible for asylum.
Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the Federal District Court in Washington declined their request to issue a temporary restraining order on the issue, which would have prohibited the government from banning asylum for most migrant coming from Central America.
According to Judge Kelly, “I do not find on this limited record the plaintiffs have provided sufficient evidence of a certain great and immediate harm to meet this high burden.”
The new rule, which was announced on July 15, is being applied on a limited basis, mostly in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. It requires migrants, who have been showing up in record numbers, to apply for asylum in the first safe country they arrive in after leaving their home. If they are denied that refuge or are victims of “severe” human trafficking, they may continue traveling to the US and seek asylum at the southern border.
Most migrants seeking asylum come from countries like El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala and travel through Mexico to get to the US. According to immigration records, most of the 688,375 migrants arrested near the southern border have come from Central America.
A great many of these turn themselves into Border Patrol agents and request asylum. However, the process to gain this is quite lengthy and can take years to resolve through the backlogged immigration courts. And then only about 20% are granted that asylum. However, many of those that are denied choose to remain in the country illegally anyway.
The new rule was designed as a way to reduce the number of asylum seekers who are coming to the US for economic reasons alone. Those who are trying to escape persecution in their own countries are the exception to the rule, even though liberals are still accusing the White House of denying fundamental human rights to those facing such atrocities.
Judge Kelly believes this measure will help to stem the flow of migrants, which is currently causing some significant issues both on a human rights level, as well as economically, for the agencies at the southern border. In May alone, nearly 144,000 migrants were detained while trying to cross into the US at the southern border. As a result, border facilities are overcrowded and bursting at the seams. Any reduction in these large numbers would significantly ease the burden of agencies who are quickly running out of funding, resources, and personnel to handle the care of such people.
In addition, he says of the organization seeking the contention, “I think at this point, the plaintiffs are reading too strictly a limitation on the Attorney General’s authority.” And he added that while the ruling would undoubtedly affect asylum-seeking migrants, “the plaintiffs before me here are not asylum seekers. They are only two organizations, one of which operates in the D.C. area, far from the southern border.”
In addition to the new asylum rule, the Trump administration has been negotiating with both Mexico and Guatemala for months to find better solutions for all parties involved. However, both countries have been slow to come to the table and even slower at coming up with ideas to reduce the number of migrants flowing from their homelands.
But, clearly, something must be done. Immigration has to be slowed to reverse the crisis we face at our borders, and President Trump and his administration are doing what they can to make a difference.