By Lauren Rearick
On Monday, June 15, the United States Departments of Justice and Homeland Security unveiled a proposed ruling that would make the asylum claims process much more difficult for migrants coming into the U.S. — and the American Civil Liberties intends to sue President Donald Trump to stop it from going into effect.
People seek asylum as a way to gain residency in a new country when the country they are leaving is unlivable or dangerous, USA Today reported. Under this proposed “third country” rule, which CNN reported would potentially take effect as soon as today, a person who traveled through a third country on their way to seek asylum in the U.S. would be required to first seek asylum in the previous country they went through, NPR reported. For instance, immigrants traveling on foot to the U.S. from countries in Central and South America, like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, first travel through Mexico; under this ruling, they would then have to seek asylum in Mexico before coming to the U.S., according to NBC News.
Only three exceptions to the Trump administration's planned ruling were announced, NPR reported. Those who had experienced torture or persecution and were denied asylum in another country could still apply in the U.S., as could victims of trafficking, and those who had entered the U.S. through a country that hasn’t agreed to the United Nations’s “1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the 1967 Protocol, or the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” These countries include India, Libya, Mongolia, and others.
Under current asylum law, anyone is permitted to come to the U.S. border and go through the process of seeking asylum, PBS reports; other countries a person has traveled through do not currently factor into the decision, the Los Angeles Times notes.
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the immigrants’ rights program at the American Civil Liberties Union, announced it intended to challenge the ruling. “This rule cannot be squared with the laws enacted by Congress,” Gelernt said, adding the ruling would “effectively end asylum at the U.S. southern border.” Gelernt said the ACLU intended to “sue swiftly.”
Since taking office, President Trump has routinely targeted migrants with racist and dangerous legislation. He passed a now-defunct “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that prosecuted anyone who attempted to cross the U.S. border without prior documentation. Because of the law, nearly 3,000 families were separated, many of whom were placed in cages. Only after continued public outcry, Trump rescinded the forced family separation portion of his policy, but he has still has continued to spread misinformation regarding conditions at the border. In a May memo, he had reportedly announced plans to charge asylum seekers for applications, while this past weekend, he planned additional ICE raids in at least 10 U.S. cities.