Trump administration finalizes sweeping asylum regulations
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Trump administration finalizes sweeping asylum regulations

The Trump administration on Thursday finalized sweeping asylum regulations that will come into force January 11, 2021 as part of a mass immigration crackdown. Under the Final Rule, asylum claims will face greater scrutiny if an immigration court finds that an asylee has traveled through another country before entering the United States without first seeking refuge from the traveled country.

The new regulations widen the scope of migrants who may be subject to asylum laws. The Justice Department (DOJ) said in a release on Thursday that the “Final Rule, consistent with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), will enable the Departments to more effectively separate baseless claims from meritorious ones.” The DOJ further indicated that the Final Rule will “streamline and enhance procedures for the adjudication of claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) regulations.” The DOJ hopes that new laws will better ensure that “groundless claims” will not “delay or divert” resources from “deserving” claims in a manner that is consistent with current laws.

The final rule directs immigration judges and asylum officers to deny a broad range of asylum claims, including those based on domestic and gang violence claims, with limited exceptions. Restrictions will also penalize migrants who cross the border illegally, use fraudulent documents, have a criminal conviction, and fail to file taxes. Under new regulations, immigration judges may overlook asylum applications without a hearing if the claim fails to demonstrate each element necessary to bring a claim for relief. While prior laws allowed asylees to show that they were “more likely than not” to face torture if deported to their home countries, new laws require people to demonstrate a “reasonable possibility” of suffering torture.

The Final Rule will take effect days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Though Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have pledged to undo this sort of policy, the team will likely face a series of political hurdles in the process.

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