Bar Exams in the Pandemic JURIST Digital Scholars
Trump administration limits ability of Central American migrants to claim asylum
© WikiMedia (U.S. Customs and Border Control)
Trump administration limits ability of Central American migrants to claim asylum

The Trump administration on Monday filed new guidelines with the Department of Homeland Security that limit the ability of Central American migrants to claim asylum in the US. The new rule, due to be published Tuesday, applies to migrants who come to the US by traveling through a third country.

Migrants who fail to apply for asylum in a third country through which they traveled to get to the US, with “limited exceptions,” will not be eligible for asylum in the US. This rule is due to become effective Tuesday and will only apply to migrants entering after that date.

The exceptions to the rule are:

(1) an alien who demonstrates that he or she applied for protection from persecution or
torture in at least one of the countries through which the alien transited en route to the United States, and the alien received a final judgment denying the alien protection in such country;
(2) an alien who demonstrates that he or she satisfies the definition of “victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons” provided in 8 CFR 214.11; or
(3) an alien who has transited en route to the United States through only a country or countries that were not parties to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the 1967 Protocol, or the CAT.

Any new migrants “may continue to apply for withholding of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act” pursuant to “U.S. obligations under Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” (CAT).

A representative of the American Civil Liberties Union commented, “[t]he 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.”