Migrants Who Cross Border Illegally Now Ineligible for Asylum: White House

Migrants who attempt to cross illegally into the United States from Mexico won’t be eligible to claim asylum, the White House said in a new rule.

The announcement was made by The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Nov. 8. President Donald Trump signed a proclamation issuing the rule on Friday.

“The United States has a long and proud history of offering protection to aliens who are fleeing persecution and torture and who qualify under the standards articulated in our immigration laws, including through our asylum system and the Refugee Admissions Program. But our system is being overwhelmed by migration through our southern border,” Trump said.

“Failing to take immediate action to stem the mass migration the United States is currently experiencing and anticipating would only encourage additional mass unlawful migration and further overwhelming of the system.”

Army soldiers install barbed wire at the U.S.-Mexico border
U.S. Army soldiers from Fort Riley, Kan., string razor wire near the port of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border on Nov. 4, 2018, in Donna, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement late Thursday that Trump has the power to make such a change.

“Consistent with our immigration laws, the President has the broad authority to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens into the United States if he determines it to be in the national interest to do so. Today’s rule applies this important principle to aliens who violate such a suspension or restriction regarding the southern border imposed by the President by invoking an express authority provided by Congress to restrict eligibility for asylum,” they said.

“Our asylum system is overwhelmed with too many meritless asylum claims from aliens who place a tremendous burden on our resources, preventing us from being able to expeditiously grant asylum to those who truly deserve it. Today, we are using the authority granted to us by Congress to bar aliens who violate a Presidential suspension of entry or other restriction from asylum eligibility.”

Opposition to the rule by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union has already risen.

“U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry,” the group said on Twitter. “It is illegal to circumvent that—by agency or presidential decree.”

The two top officials cited section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, saying the act states “[w]henever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

Justification for the new rule was also found in section 215(a) of the act, which states that it is “unlawful…for any alien to depart from or enter or attempt to depart from or enter the United States except under such reasonable rules, regulations, and orders, and subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President may prescribe.”

Anyone who illegally enters the United States from Mexico is ineligible for asylum, according to the interim rule (pdf).