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White House readies crackdown on asylum seekers coming through Mexico


The departments of Justice and Homeland Security released the text of an interim regulation Thursday afternoon outlining new restrictions on asylum that will be the subject of a presidential proclamation, expected to be issued by the White House on Friday.

The interim rule, which will be published in the Federal Register and open for public comment Friday morning, establishes “a mandatory bar to asylum eligibility” for refugees crossing the southwestern border between official ports of entry. It contains a finding that granting asylum in those circumstances “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

During a call with reporters Thursday afternoon, senior administration officials explained that Trump would be exercising the same “use of authority that the Supreme Court upheld in Trump v. Hawaii,” better known as the travel ban case, to make such a determination about migrants who enter the U.S. from Mexico.

Under existing U.S. law, anyone who is physically present in the country is eligible to apply for asylum here, regardless of how they entered the country. Many Central American asylum seekers, and others who pass through Mexico from other parts of the world, cross the border unofficially and wait to be apprehended by Border Patrol officers. Others present themselves at official ports of entry, of which there are 48 between San Diego and Brownsville, Texas. But the procedure for dealing with them has been the same: Anyone who expresses a fear of returning to their home country is referred to an asylum officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, who conducts what’s known as a “credible fear” interview to assess whether the person has a “well-founded fear” of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. If they qualify, the practice has been to release them into the population for a hearing on granting asylum status, which can take months or years. Read more

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White House readies crackdown on asylum seekers coming through Mexico