On Friday, President Donald Trump issued an order to deny asylum applications lodged by migrants who enter the United States illegally.
The order, which goes into effect tomorrow, ‘suspends the entry of migrants through the US southern border between ports of entry for 90 days.’
Many of the measures, created by the Department of Homeland Security, are meant to coerce migrants into using official border crossings.
Designed to combat an approaching caravan and an overall increase in Central American asylum claims, the president used many of the same powers he’d invoked for last year’s travel ban. The ban, considered unconstitutional by some, was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court.
Under current rules, notes DW.com, ‘a migrant is allowed to make a claim up to a year after arriving in the US, whether if they crossed the border illegally or not.’
The new regulations, mandated by the DHS and signed off by President Trump, would effectively prevent any asylum claims made during or after an unauthorized entry to the United States.
“Those who enter the country between ports are knowingly and voluntarily breaking the law,” the Justice Department said Thursday.
However, the Friday proclamation already has challengers.
The regulations, reports ABC News, ‘are intended to circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country.’ Each year, an estimated 70,000 individuals come to the United States without authorization and requesting asylum.
“We need people in our country but they have to come here legally,” Trump said Friday, shortly before departing for Paris.
The order’s been condemned by the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a suit in a Northern California federal court. The ACLU and its allies say Trump’s latest endeavor is clearly illegal.
“The president is simply trying to run roughshod over Congress’s decision to provide asylum to those in danger regardless of the manner of one’s entry,” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said.
And ABC says that ports of entry may already be too busy to handle an influx of asylum-seekers. Immigration officers routinely tell some prospective migrants to turn around and come back later. Such backlogs have gotten progressively worse over the past few months. San Diego’s main border crossing, for instance, is five weeks behind applications.
Migrants who opt for illegal entries and find themselves in custody often seek asylum. Claims, says ABC, have spiked in the past two years. Immigration courts now have a 1.1 million backlog of cases. Only about 20% of asylum requests are eventually approved.
“The arrival of large numbers … will contribute to the overloading of our immigration and asylum system and to the release of thousands … into the interior of the United States,” Trump said Friday, calling immigration a “crisis.”
Administration officials have said individuals whose asylum claims are denied can still qualify for other forms of protection, though they’ve more intensive requirements.