US toughens asylum rule to curb influx of undocumented migrants
The Trump administration on Monday moved to drastically curtail asylum protection for those arriving at the United States border by crossing through another country, a route used by undocumented migrants from Central American and other countries including India.
In a new rule set to be published in the Federal Register, the administration has said migrants who crossed another country to reach the US will not be allowed to apply for asylum protection if they failed to apply for it in the country they transited through.
“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,” Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement.
The rule takes effect Tuesday, with certain exceptions. It will not apply to people who are either victims of human trafficking or have been denied asylum by other countries.
In real terms, migrants from Central American countries Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, which are also called the ‘Northern Triangle’ countries, who reach the US border cutting through Mexico will not be allowed to apply for asylum protection if they did not seek it in Mexico. Indians attempting to get into the US without papers use the same route and will, thus, be subjected to the same new rule.
The new measure came amidst countrywide alert for raids to apprehend and deport undocumented immigrants ordered by President Donald Trump. There have been reports of no arrests so far, but activists and opponents of the President’s order continued to closely monitor communities likely be hit worst.
The Trump administration said the waves of migrants arriving the border have strained the immigration system and their numbers need to severely curtailed as, in the end, only a small number of them will be granted asylum and the rest will be turned back or deported.