Trump administration efforts to clean up immigration policy at the border and end the separation of parents and children has drawn immediate fire from mainstream media.
“Trump Immigration Policy Has Plunged Mexican Migrants Into a Purgatory: ‘It’s As If They Killed You,’” read the headline on Newsweek’s story.
“Trump administration to turn away far more asylum seekers at the border under new policy,” read the headline at CNN.
“Jeff Sessions: No asylum for victims of domestic abuse, gang violence,” wrote USA Today.
“The Misogynistic Logic of Jeff Sessions’ Horrifying New Asylum Policy for Domestic Violence Victims,” wrote the Intercept.
The dictionary definition of asylum is “the protection granted by a nation to someone who has left their native country as a political refugee.”
Those caught simply trying to sneak into the U.S. are adjudicated within a day or two and routinely deported. The problem with separation of families and children in detention centers arises from asylum claims. Those take longer to adjudicate, which necessitates housing the children and parents.
The Trump administration has moved to avoid this by not taking into custody people who have little hope of succeeding in their asylum claims. It directed that “Claims based on … vulnerability to harm of domestic violence or gang violence committed by non-government actors will not establish the basis for asylum, refugee status or a credible or reasonable fear of persecution.”
It also instructed illegal entry into the US, absent good cause, should “weigh against a favorable exercise of discretion,’ in granting an asylum claim.
Vox said the plan would “add presumptions that would make it extremely difficult for Central Americans to qualify for asylum.”
This “tightening [of] the screws throughout the asylum process” would “eliminate the path that thousands of Central Americans, including families, take every month to seek asylum in the US: entering between ports of entry and presenting themselves to Border Patrol agents.” It also would “create a presumption against Central Americans who travel through Mexico on their way to the US.”
Vox reported that the plan would “bar anyone from getting asylum if they’d been convicted of illegal entry or illegal re-entry. That means people who asked for asylum when they were apprehended at the border, but were prosecuted first, would get denied asylum.”
So why not just go to a port of entry if you intend to make an asylum claim?
“Many asylum seekers simply don’t have that option,” Vox said. “Smugglers often prevent asylum-seekers from using official ports of entry.” We’re not told why someone seeking asylum would be in the position of being “prevented” from entering the country by legal means.
The person referred to in Newsweek’s headline was a man who said he fled Nigeria in 2015, somehow made it to South America and sneaked his way up to the U.S. border only to be turned away. It’s not because of the new policy, Newsweek says. It’s because of the uncertainty.
“While President Donald Trump has railed against Mexico for doing ‘nothing’ to stop migrants from reaching the U.S. border, saying they travel through the country ‘like it’s walking through Central Park,’ this is the reality for thousands who come to Mexico from around the world to seek asylum in the United States. Whether a Nigerian Christian, an Angolan political exile or a pregnant Mexican mother carrying her 2-year-old more than 1,500 miles north, asylum seekers tell Newsweek they are trapped in limbo by the Trump administration’s ever-shifting immigration policy, with officials now widely employing a controversial deterrence tactic: making migrants wait in Mexico indefinitely.”
This “approach effectively forces a ‘safe third-country’ arrangement on Mexico, making it an international waiting room,’” Newsweek reported.