Trump Administration Announces New Asylum Rule
By Preston Huennekens | FAIR Take | June 2020
The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new joint asylum policy that they claim will create more efficient procedures for the adjudication of asylum claims. In essence, this is a needed reform that will ensure those with frivolous asylum claims do not clog up the immigration system, while ensuring that those with meritorious claims navigate the process quicker.
Crucially, the rule proposes to edit and tweak the definition of “membership in a particular social group.” This is one of the avenues that people can claim when filing for asylum. Immigration judges and lawyers use this as a catch-all category to include people whose only claim is a fear of neighborhood gangs in their home country. Asylum is typically only reserved for those whose own governments persecute them because of their political beliefs, religion, or immutable characteristic such as homosexuality. Almost all of the asylum seekers from South America come to the U.S. to escape violence from gangs — which traditionally is not considered grounds for asylum. If the rule tightens the definition for “membership in a particular social group,” it could mean that many of these aliens will have no claim to asylum in the United States.
Aliens will also face additional scrutiny if they traveled through another country to reach the U.S. border, but did not apply for asylum there. The U.S. entered into temporary agreements with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador that mirror this effort. However, this rule will make it much harder for a subsequent administration to reverse.
The rule also essentially forbids illegal aliens from claiming asylum if they lived in the United States for a year before applying for asylum. This prevents aliens arrested by ICE from claiming asylum in hopes to slow their removal proceedings, and is a positive move.
This rule is a step in the right direction for the administration. Asylum reform is desperately needed to prevent another wave of illegal alien apprehensions at our southwest border. In fiscal year 2019, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended over 977,000 aliens, almost all of whom were seeking asylum, knowing there was a high likelihood that they would enter the country. The fiscal year before saw only 521,000 apprehensions — indicating how serious the jump was.
For too long, illegal aliens and immigration lawyers have abused asylum as a way to slow down their eventual removal from the country. Most aliens do not qualify for asylum. In 2019, immigration judges denied 69 percent of all asylum cases due to lack of merit. This new rule will help tighten America’s asylum procedures.