AILA Quicktake #253: Trump Administration’s New Proclamation on Asylum

AILA's Policy Counsel Jason Boyd discusses President Trump's proclamation on asylum and its impact on the southern border of the United States.

Video Transcript

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Earlier today President Trump issued a proclamation effective immediately that
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bars from seeking asylum any individuals who enter the United States from Mexico
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between ports of entry. Those individuals may still seek relief in the form of
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withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.
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However, these forms of protection are not only weaker than asylum they're
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appreciably more difficult to qualify for. The proclamation will remain
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effective for 90 days or until the establishment of a so-called safe third
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country agreement with Mexico, whichever occurs earlier. By the 90th day the
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secretaries of Homeland Security and State, along with the Attorney General,
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must recommend to the president whether to renew or extend the proclamation.
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[MUSIC]
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This proclamation guts key due process protections for asylum seekers under
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unambiguous laws passed by Congress. Individuals arriving to the United
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States whether at or between ports of entry have the right to seek asylum.
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Not everyone is eligible for that relief but everyone deserves a full and fair
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opportunity to pursue it. The proclamation is a transparent end run
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around these laws and has already come under legal challenge.
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Unfortunately, this action is just the latest step in the administration's ongoing, systematic
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effort to shut out asylum seekers from our country. In fact, it's critical to
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note that in recent years Customs and Border Protection has, on an alarming
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scale, illegally turned away asylum seekers who lawfully present themselves
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at ports of entries. That practice in combination with today's proclamation
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will force many vulnerable asylum seekers who reach the US border into a Catch 22
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If they present themselves at a port of entry, CBP could turn them back.
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Yet if they enter between ports of entry, under the proclamation, they'll be
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stripped of the right to seek asylum altogether. Many persecuted women,
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children, and family may now have no meaningful chance to
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apply for asylum as guaranteed them under the law.
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As such, today's proclamation puts lives at risk. Meanwhile, those who do get processed by CBP
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could be thrust into a dramatically expanded ICE detention operation.
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[MUSIC]
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Though the administration has portrayed the caravan traveling through Mexico as somehow
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evidence of a U.S. border in peril, nothing could be further from the truth.
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Border apprehensions in fiscal year 2018 were markedly low compared to prior
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decades. And a caravan that remains hundreds of miles away that consists of
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hungry tired Central Americans fleeing violence and hardship in no way poses a
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threat to the most powerful nation on earth. Let's be clear then, there is no
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border crisis. There is, however, a humanitarian crisis in Central America,
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where rampant gang violence, domestic abuse, and other dangers have prompted
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continuing outflows of asylum seeking families and children. Our government
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must step up and address this humanitarian emergency.
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[MUSIC]
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To begin with, the Administration should uphold its legal obligation under
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domestic and international law to ensure individuals right to seek asylum. Where
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the Administration fails to do so, Congress must hold it fully accountable.
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In addition, the administration should build up refugee processing programs in
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the region, not tear them down. In the absence of such processing options many
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persecuted individuals may feel they have no choice but to make dangerous
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treks north in pursuit of asylum. The administration must also get more
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serious about providing foreign assistance to allay the human rights
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abuses driving Central American displacement. In all, there are a host of
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meaningful ways in which our government can and should respond.
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Today's proclamation is not one of them.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 18110949.