By Sean Jackson
The Trump administration plans to harden migration rules to drastically decrease those seeking asylum in the United States and stem the tide of illegal immigration at the southern border. This comes amid the administration's push to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
The regulation is to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday. The administration’s proposed framework will allow those seeking asylum to be sent to other nations based on negotiated bilateral agreements. The intended goal is to deter those travelling to the southern border from seeking asylum in the U.S.
This move follows administration officials arguing that migrants with valid asylum claims should seek protection in the first ‘safe’ country where they have the opportunity to apply, as many migrants travel through multiple nations before reaching the U.S. border. This new regulation states that asylum seekers could potentially be sent to other countries that the U.S. has asylum agreements with, even if they did not travel through those nations initially.
Currently the U.S. maintains bilateral asylum deals with Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Canada and is seeking more countries to develop asylum deals with, as well as finalize the pacts with the aforementioned.
The only recourse for migrants who may be sent to a third country is to prove that they are ‘more likely than not’ to be prosecuted or tortured in that country. Some advocates argue that establishing such grounds will be an obstacle for migrants who may not have the means of corroborating the claims.
Aaron Richlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the American Immigration Council, suggests that the regulation could change the U.S. asylum system entirely, saying, “If this rule fully goes into effect, virtually no one who arrived at the southern border would ever be allowed to ask for asylum in the United States.”
Last Thursday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan spoke in a press briefing at the White House, aligning the agency’s goals with the current administration, stating, “Let me put this in perspective real quick. By mid-year, CBP was detaining almost 20,000 detainees in custody. Now we average less than 3,500 daily. At the height of the crisis, CBP apprehension exceeded 5,000 in a single day. Now we’re averaging just over 1,300. And we all but ended catch and release. Migrants can no longer expect to be allowed into the interior of the United States based on fraudulent asylum claims. And more importantly, we’re sending a message to their criminal organizations to stop exploiting these migrants and their profit making schemes.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security stated on Saturday that the implementation of an asylum agreement happen soon. She did not provide any specific timeline.