Published: Thu, July 18, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Trump moves to end asylum protections for Central American migrants

Trump moves to end asylum protections for Central American migrants

He criticized the Trump administration's new policy, pointing out that the first country he was able to reach after leaving Cuba was Nicaragua.

Some of the returned migrants said they had not originally planned to request asylum in the United States, and said the idea only occurred to them when they were offered the option.

The text of the interim order is a mockery of legal-not to mention democratic-principles. Under US law, migrants are allowed to claim asylum once on US soil.

The White House hopes this will stop refugees traveling through Mexico and claiming asylum at the border. "The new rule would only make this situation worse, while jeopardizing the safety and security of countless migrants fleeing persecution".

This is a blatant lie.

"This is just the latest in a steady drumbeat of efforts by this administration to target and strip away the rights of asylum seekers and immigrants more broadly", said Monika Kalra Varma, LCCR executive director. About 20,000 have been sent back to Mexico, and thousands more are on wait lists just to get to the front of the line to get an asylum interview. He also said Mexico, despite its protestations, isn't a "safe" country. The administration is frustrated at the lack of action in Congress and says it will take steps on its own to change the incentives pulling migrants north.

The US can not declare a country to be a safe without the formal agreement of the place in question.

The idea that Mexico could serve as such a country is preposterous. Migrants regularly attempt to cross the river, either by swimming or on rafts. And lawmakers who traveled there recently decried conditions. However, less than 20 percent are granted asylum relief by an immigration judge.

The idea that Guatemala could serve as such a "safe third country" is even more grotesque. This would require these countries to offer permanent asylum to migrants, not just temporarily warehouse them as Mexico is now doing.

The outgoing Guatemalan president, Jimmy Morales, had been willing to discuss it with President Donald Trump, but the country's Constitutional Court temporarily blocked it on Monday.

Former Foreign Minister Edgar Gutierrez told the El Periodico daily the deal would have made Guatemala "the biggest concentration camp in history". Guatemalans and Mexicans are also fleeing their homelands - albeit not on such a large scale as some Central American countries.

It boggles the mind to think of families fleeing MS-13 recruiters, drug traffickers and extortionists in Honduras or El Salvador trying to resettle safely in dysfunctional Guatemala.

FILE -The words "Tijuana, Mexico" stand on the Mexican side of the border with the US where migrants wait to apply for asylum in the USA, in Tijuana, Mexico, June 9, 2019.

UNHCR believes the rule excessively curtails the right to apply for asylum, jeopardizes the right to protection from refoulement, significantly raises the burden of proof on asylum seekers beyond the global legal standard, sharply curtails basic rights and freedoms of those who manage to meet it, and is not in line with worldwide obligations.

The reduction of the "pull factor" is an objective being pursued through the blatant brutalization of immigrants and refugees, who have been crammed into "standing-room only" cages on the border and denied adequate food and sanitation. This includes the violent civil wars waged with USA support and military dictatorships imposed with Washington's backing, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

And it was unclear how other countries through which migrants pass would react. Mexico is still haunted by the 2010 massacre of 72 migrants in the Tamaulipas town of San Fernando, and wants at all costs to avoid a similar occurrence. In some cases where there were raids, they met with resistance from neighbors of those targeted.

The new rules were placed on the federal register on Monday and due to take effect on Tuesday, though they will be immediately challenged in court for contraventions of the U.S. refugee act and the United Nations refugee convention guaranteeing the right to seek asylum to those fleeing persecution from around the world. "They don't even attempt to listen to you".

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