“The Trump administration is trying to unilaterally reverse our country’s legal and moral commitment to protect people who are fleeing danger,” the ACLU said on Twitter. “This new rule is patently unlawful.”
The Trump administration said Monday it will change asylum rules, essentially making Central American migrants traveling through Mexico ineligible to seek protection in the United States.
The new rule, reported by UPI, was announced jointly by the Justice Department and Homeland Security and is scheduled to go into effect Tuesday.
The rule said that those seeking asylum will not be eligible if they pass through another country to reach the U.S. border.
The rule requires the asylum-seekers to first apply for protection in the country they traveled through. The measure provides exceptions for victims of trafficking, migrants passing through countries that have not signed major international refugee treaties and for migrants who have been denied asylum in the countries they traveled through.
“This rule is a lawful exercise of authority provided by Congress to restrict eligibility for asylum,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement.
“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.
“This rule will decrease forum shopping by economic migrants and those who seek to exploit our asylum system to obtain entry to the United States — while ensuring that no one is removed from the United States who is more likely than not to be tortured or persecuted on account of a protected ground.”
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan called the rule temporary but currently needed to address the problem of large amounts of migrants seeking asylum at the southern border.
“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,” McAleenan said in a statement.