There are things that never change in the Trump administration, for example new rules and wild proposals where immigrants are always affected. On this occasion, it is the turn of the people who arrive in the United States fleeing persecution and violence in their countries.
To apply for humanitarian asylum in US territory, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the only requirement of the applicant was to show that in his home country he is being harassed by his race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or a particular social group, however the current commander-in-chief of the country, he has wanted to complicate things more, that is why every migrant coming from Central America who has crossed other countries on his route to the US border can no longer make a claim for asylum.
As reported by TIME Magazine, immigration attorneys say the rule violates already established domestic and international asylum laws. Under the new and limiting rules, there is a “safe third country,” a policy where migrants, who are not Mexican, would need to apply for asylum in Mexico first.
Mexico disagrees with the Trump Administration new rule and will not change its own asylum rules. “Mexico does not agree with measures that limit access to asylum and refuge for people who fear for their lives or safety in their country of origin,” Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón said in a public statement.
Guatemala also said “no” to be part of the so-called safe third country. The country’s highest court is blocking anyone from signing the pact without the consent of lawmakers. The President-elect Alejandro Giammattei said he needs to analyze the agreement, and that he hopes to modify the deal. Giammattei has said his country is not in a position to take in migrants. Is good to point out that Guatemala is one of the countries in Latin America struggling with poverty and that can’t protect under asylum because the violence and gangs are out of control, plus a large numbers of Guatemalan migrants seek asylum at the U.S border.
“What makes it sort of stunning moment right now is the degree to which the Trump Administration is trying to remake — and that may be too soft of a word — the American asylum system,” says Carl Bon Tempo, a history professor at the State University of New York at Albany. This means that the proposed changes reverse the policy on how the U.S. treats people seeking asylum.
“Regardless of where they began their journey, many of the individuals entering our southern border have legitimate claims for asylum in the United States…This Rule creates yet another barrier to the right to seek protection that is guaranteed under both federal and international law,” said RAICES executive director Jonathan Ryan.
Now migrants must meet the definition of a refugee, something different from applying for asylum. But why as a refugee? Well, according to the U.S. history, the country has been rejecting them since the refugee crisis around World War II. “That’s an audacious move to try to almost destroy this category of asylum,” Bon Tempo says.
In response to the immigration measure, several groups that defend the rights of migrants have criticized the new rule, as they violate national and international laws. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced on July 16 that it had filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration.
“We have been expecting something along these lines for some time now,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the ACLU, tells the magazine. “We believe that the rule is an end run around the asylum laws Congress has passed and should be invalidated as inconsistent with the immigration statute.”
The UN Refugee Agency said in a statement that the new rule “will put vulnerable families at risk. It will undermine efforts by countries across the region to devise the coherent, collective responses that are needed. This measure is severe and is not the best way forward,” adding that it “jeopardizes the right to protection from refoulement, significantly raises the burden of proof on asylum seekers beyond the international legal standard, sharply curtails basic rights and freedoms of those who manage to meet it, and is not in line with international obligations.”
The most important question we need to ask ourselves is: Does the White House have the authority to change the laws established by Congress? The answer is no! At least that’s what the director of Columbia Law School’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic said. According to Elora Mukherjee, the President can’t wake up one day wanting to change everything. “In our system of checks and balances, the code of federal regulations cannot be overwritten by executive fiat,” Mukherjee says. “The President can’t just rewrite the law.”
“This president, this administration, is trying to end asylum,” Mukherjee added. “This rule is another move to turn refugees with well founded fears of persecution back to places where their lives would be in danger.”
All those people who applied for asylum before July 16 were not affected, however after that date the future has been uncertain for the thousands of applicants who day after day wait at the border to be approved.
“In so many countries around the world, immigrants are targets of very serious anti-immigrant violence,” Mukherjee says. “They’re subject to attacks, and it’s just going to put lots of asylum seekers in harm’s way.” In fact, as reported by Pacific Standard, Hispanic immigrants are not the only one affected, after been denied asylum in the United States, Cameroonians had been killed. “It’s like living in hell there. People are being killed like flies,” said an African migrant.
According to the migrants been denied entry in the U.S is just the beginning of something even worse. “That journey is another war of its own. But you just have to continue because if you go back, you’re dead already,” an asylum seeker said.