No Asylum Changes Yet Amid Two Court Challenges

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Facing legal challenges and having few details on how the Trump administration will carry out its new asylum policy, U.S. immigration agents proceeded as usual Tuesday, reports the Wall Street Journal. Civil-rights and immigration groups filed suit challenging new rules that could dramatically limit asylum claims by Central American migrants seeking entry. The suit, filed in a Northern California federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union for groups that aid migrants and refugees, calls the new policy “an unlawful effort to significantly undermine, if not virtually repeal, the U.S. asylum system at the southern border, and cruelly closes our doors to refugees fleeing persecution.” Two groups—Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition and Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services—sought a federal court injunction against the rule in Washington, D.C.

The Department of Homeland Security hasn’t explained how it would change its method of processing more than 1,000 people who daily cross the border illegally and request asylum. About two dozen people were allowed to cross into the U.S. and ask for protection at ports of entry in Texas and California on Tuesday, a typical number. The latest shift is playing out much as other administration immigration changes have unfolded. A 2018 rule forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their claims to be adjudicated took months to implement and still applies to only a small fraction of those eligible. Last year’s policy of separating families was enforced without a plan to reunite them. It was blocked by courts and withdrawn. The administration hasn’t said what it would do with people deemed ineligible for asylum under the new policy. If they aren’t released in the U.S., they would need to be transported to the first country they entered after leaving home.

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