WASHINGTON, DC, June 15, 2019 – Today, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice announced new regulations, effective July 16, 2019, that will prevent migrants on the southern border from seeking asylum in the United States when they have not applied for protection in a third country through which they transited first.
Jeremy McKinney, Second Vice President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) remarked, “This interim final rule will further endanger asylum seekers, already at risk through numerous other policies targeting those seeking protection under our laws. Blocking these migrants from applying for asylum will only exacerbate the dangers they are exposed to, and is the latest attempt by the Trump administration to push vulnerable asylum seekers out of sight. Our laws require we offer a meaningful chance to seek asylum. This rule denies people that chance. If the administration truly wanted to make our asylum system more efficient, maximize the chances that bona fide asylum seekers are protected, and live up to our values, then the steps they should take are clear. This rule isn’t one of them.”
Immediate solutions AILA recommends include:
- Deploy more trained USCIS asylum officers to conduct credible fear interviews so cases that are clearly ineligible can be separated quickly from those who have valid claims.
- Allow asylum officers to grant asylum to clearly eligible border arrivals.
- Use alternatives to detention to ensure asylum seekers appear for hearings while reducing the exorbitant and unnecessary costs of detention. Alternatives to detention like the DHS Family Case Management Program have a near perfect – 99 percent – appearance rate.
- Restore judges’ authority and independence to manage their dockets to increase immigration court efficiency.
- Provide lawyers to migrants, which immigration judges agree will increase efficiency.
- Invest resources to improve conditions in Central American countries from which so many are fleeing persecution.
- Set up processes so that asylum seekers can seek protection in their home country instead of traveling thousands of miles on a dangerous journey.