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Trump administration proposes cracking down on migrants trying to claim asylum in US

Trump administration proposes cracking down on migrants trying to claim asylum in US
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The Trump administration is proposing a new policy that would crack down on migrants trying to claim asylum in the U.S. 

A 161-page draft rule, which was released by the departments of Homeland Security and Justice and is set to hit the Federal Register on June 15, includes a litany of changes that would make it harder for migrants to be granted asylum in the country. 

One change includes exerting increased scrutiny over an individual’s asylum claim if they traveled through at least one country on their way to the U.S. but did not apply to stay there. The administration has proposed a similar rule for migrants traveling through Mexico from Latin America, but the new rule would widen the scope of that policy. Exceptions exist, including for those who were victims of human trafficking.

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"The Departments believe that the failure to seek asylum or refugee protection in at least one country through which an alien transited while en route to the United States may reflect an increased likelihood that the alien is misusing the asylum system as a mechanism to enter and remain in the United States rather than legitimately seeking urgent protection," the draft rule says.

The proposal also states that living in the U.S. without documents for over a year prior to filing an asylum application would be considered a “significant adverse factor.” Criminal convictions, even those that were vacated or expunged, or failures to file taxes could also be held against an asylum seeker. 

The proposal also suggests redefining “membership in a particular social group,” one of the categories people can meet to apply for asylum. 

Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst for the US Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute, told CNN the changes could speed up asylum verdicts, but it will also “further limit the number of individuals that qualify for asylum, as well as similar benefits.”

“A lot of these provisions have been in the works with the administration for years,” Pierce said. “Rather than issue them as separate regulations, the administration has lumped together a lot of different provisions in this behemoth, Frankenstein asylum regulation.”

The Trump administration has put a premium on curtailing asylum claims and drastically cutting illegal border crossings. The administration already requires asylum-seekers from Latin America to wait in Mexico as their claims are processed and sent some migrants to seek protections there instead. It’s also postponed immigration hearings and paused refugee admissions.

The new proposed changes do not include any mention of the coronavirus.