Trump Is Changing The Rules About Asylum Ahead Of A Migrant Caravan's Arrival

by Chelsea Stewart
Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Another day, another policy from the Trump administration. This time, it's taking steps to limit the flow of Central American migrants, who are seeking asylum from poverty and violence, crossing the United States southern border — a move that is perhaps one of the president's most legally aggressive acts on immigration yet. Seriously, Donald Trump's latest asylum policy is a major crackdown and is guaranteed to catch some heat. Elite Daily reached out to the White House and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for further comment, but did not hear back by the time of publication.

On Friday, Nov. 9 — the same day the caravan plans to leave Mexico City to continue their journey to the southern border — President Trump signed a proclamation restricting migrants from claiming asylum unless they cross the southern border at legal ports of entry. “We want people to come into our country, but they have to come into the country legally,” Trump told reporters of the policy on Friday morning. Currently, the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act allows migrants to claim asylum whether they arrive at official entry points or not, as long as he or she has a "well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion." The new interim federal rule, however, says that migrants who cross the southern border “illegally” are restricted from applying for asylum. To avoid being banned, people should go through legal ports of entry “where they would be processed in a controlled, orderly and lawful manner," per Fortune.

The proclamation reads, in part:

The arrival of large numbers of aliens will contribute to the overloading of our immigration and asylum system and to the release of thousands of aliens into the interior of the United States. The continuing and threatened mass migration of aliens with no basis for admission into the United States through our southern border has precipitated a crisis and undermines the integrity of our borders.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In a Nov. 8 statement, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) slammed the decision. “U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry," said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. "It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree.”

In recent weeks, Trump has latched on to the subject of the migrant caravan, which has been heading towards the United States border. On Oct. 22, he claimed, without any apparent evidence, that the caravan contains Middle Easterners. The same day, he suggested that Democrats had “something to do” with the formation of the caravan in an interview with USA Today — again, without evidence for his assertion. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on these claims at the time, but did not hear back. He has also repeatedly claimed without evidence that the caravan is carrying criminals, including members of the deadly MS-13 gang. When asked to provide evidence on the claims by a reporter on Oct. 19, Trump brushed the question off and told her, "Don't be a baby." Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on the moment, but did not hear back by the time of publication. Members of the caravan, however, have defended themselves against his attacks, firmly telling him, "We are not killers," according to Time.

In fact, the caravan of several thousand people is made up of people fleeing violence in Central America, and contains women, children, and families. According to the Brookings Institution, the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras rank in the top 10 for homicide internationally.

And here we are. Trump has seemingly only ratcheted up his anti-migrant rhetoric and policies in recent days and weeks, and something tells me it's not going to get better. We'll see.