On July 15, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a bulletin announcing a joint Interim Final Rule (IFR) to raise the bar for eligible asylum seekers at the southern U.S. border with Mexico.
The DHS-DOJ Third-Country Asylum Rule took effect the next day when it was published in the Federal Register. It states that migrants who travel through another country to reach the southern U.S. border will not be eligible to apply for asylum and permanent residency unless they applied elsewhere for protection from persecution or torture.
Citing Congressional authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the two federal agencies detailed the new law which was crafted “to add a new bar to eligibility for asylum for an alien who enters or attempts to enter the United States across the southern border, but who did not apply for protection from persecution or torture where it was available in at least one third country outside the alien’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence through which he or she transited en route to the United States.”
The Trump administration has announced new asylum policies that would effectively end asylum entitlements for the vast majority of migrants reaching the southern border.
The “Third-Country Asylum Rule” issued in a bulletin by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) signals a major crackdown on asylum claims along the Mexican border.
The new rule to be published imminently in the Federal Register reads as follows:
“This IFR uses the authority delegated by Congress in section 208(b)(2)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to enhance the integrity of the asylum process by placing further restrictions or limitations on eligibility for aliens who seek asylum in the United States. Specifically, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are revising 8 C.F.R. § 208.13(c) and 8 C.F.R. § 1208.13(c) to add a new bar to eligibility for asylum for an alien who enters or attempts to enter the United States across the southern border, but who did not apply for protection from persecution or torture where it was available in at least one third country outside the alien’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence through which he or she transited en route to the United States.”
There are three main restrictions to the rule:
“(1) an alien who demonstrates that he or she applied for protection from persecution or torture in at least one of the countries through which the alien transited en route to the United States, and the alien received a final judgment denying the alien protection in such country;
“(2) an alien who demonstrates that he or she satisfies the definition of ‘victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons…; or,
“(3) an alien who has transited en route to the United States through only a country or countries that were not parties to the 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.”
William Barr, the U.S. Attorney General, has given the legal nod to the new immigration restrictions by stating in the bulletin was born of necessity:
“This Rule is a lawful exercise of authority provided by Congress to restrict eligibility for asylum. The United States is a generous country but is being completely overwhelmed by the burdens associated with apprehending and processing hundreds of thousands of aliens along the southern border.”
The fact is that the vast majority of asylum seekers at southern U.S. ports of entry are not Mexican citizens. Many hail from Central or South American countries. But Africans seeking a better life have also figured out that Mexico affords ready access to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
For example, 27-year-old Ndifor Gedeon from Cameroon had counted on U.S. leniency to give him the opportunity to escape the problems and conditions his third-world country imposed on him, including a stint in jail. (The government there is persecuting English-speakers.) Gedeon was upset that the U.S. immigration rules now block his easy access within the nation’s borders:
“I feel sick. If I am sent back to Cameroon, I’d lose my life. The situation is very horrible.”
Gedeon, who speaks no Spanish, said he didn’t feel safe in Tijuana, with its high murder rate, but would rather stay there than return to his native land.
DHS Acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan wrote in a prepared statement that the temporary measure is expected to reduce the massive waves of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. from Mexico:
“Until Congress can act, this interim rule will help reduce a major ‘pull’ factor driving irregular migration to the United States and enable DHS and DOJ to more quickly and efficiently process cases originating from the southern border, leading to fewer individuals transiting through Mexico on a dangerous journey.”
This law is supposed to ease the strain on the national immigration system “by more efficiently identifying aliens who are misusing the asylum system to enter and remain in the United States rather than legitimately seeking urgent protection from persecution or torture,” concluded the DHS-DOJ bulletin announcement of the Third-Country Asylum Rule.