The Trump administration has issued a new proposed rule that would further limit access to asylum. If the rule goes into effect, would apply extra scrutiny to noncitizens who travel from Latin America to the Southern border of the United States. Primarily, the proposal would make it harder for people to claim asylum in the U.S. if they did not apply in other countries that they traveled through on their way here.

People can apply for asylum in the U.S., regardless of their immigration status, at any U.S. port of entry. You are eligible for asylum if you have suffered or fear you will suffer persecution due to your:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

This new proposal widens the scope of an existing policy that requires immigrants to apply for asylum in other countries on their route to the United States. The new rule would place heightened scrutiny on asylum applications if the person did not attempt to gain asylum in other countries.

“The departments believe that the failure to seek asylum or refugee protection in at least one country through which an alien transited while en route to the United States may reflect an increased likelihood that the alien is misusing the asylum system as a mechanism to enter and remain in the United States rather than legitimately seeking urgent protection,” reads the proposal.

The Trump administration considers the rule necessary to cut down on so-called “frivolous” asylum claims and to speed up processing times. However, the rule would also eliminate certain traditional grounds for asylum altogether. For example, asylum claims would no longer be granted to those seeking protection from terrorism or gang-related threats.

Additionally, the new rule would count several factors against asylum seekers:

  • Living illegally in the U.S. for more than a year
  • Having a criminal conviction, even if it was vacated or expunged

Immigration advocates say the policy essentially constitutes a new ban on asylum seekers from certain countries. The main reason people don’t apply for asylum in the countries they travel through on their way to the United States is that it simply is not safe to do so. Many of the countries have no real resources to grant asylum and protect applicants from persecution.

“This latest effort continues a pattern of executive overreach,” said House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, in a statement. “We can and must continue to be a beacon of hope and freedom across the world.”

If you have questions about asylum, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We have years of experience helping people come live and work in the United States.