Trump WH Announces New Asylum Restrictions; Lawsuits Coming

Susan Jones | July 15, 2019 | 11:09am EDT
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As seen through fencing, U.S. Customs and Border Protection watch as migrants walk toward a Border Patrol vehicle after crossing to the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier, on June 27, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

( - The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday announced its intention to sue the Trump administration when new asylum restrictions are published in the Federal Register on Tuesday.

“The Trump administration is trying to unilaterally reverse our country's legal and moral commitment to protect those fleeing danger. This new rule is patently unlawful, and we will sue swiftly,” the ACLU said in a statement Monday morning.

The new rule issued by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security will, according to the White House, "enhance the integrity of the asylum process by placing further restrictions or limitations on eligibility for aliens who seek asylum in the United States."

Under the interim rule, most aliens will be ineligible for asylum if they passed through another country on their way to the U.S. border without applying for protection in that country.

Aliens will have to show that they applied for protection -- and were denied -- in at least one country that they passed through on their way to the U.S.

Aliens covered by the rule will not be eligible for asylum in the U.S. unless they are victims of trafficking, persecution or torture.

“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,” Barr said.

A White House fact sheet noted that "Asylum is a discretionary benefit offered by the United States Government to those fleeing persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion."

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said the interim rule will help reduce a major "pull factor" that is driving hundreds of thousands of people to flood into the United States every month, without valid asylum claims.

"Ultimately, today's action will reduce the overwhelming burdens on our domestic system caused by asylum-seekers failing to seek urgent protection in the first available country, economic migrants lacking a legitimate fear of persecution, and the transnational criminal organizations, traffickers, and smugglers exploiting our system for profits,” McAleenan said.

Only a small minority of asylum seekers are ultimately successful.

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