The Trump administration on Monday announced a sweeping new policy tightening restrictions for asylum seekers, in a move that could drastically reduce the number of Central American migrants eligible to enter the United States in this way.
The new rule, published in the Federal Register, would require most migrants entering through America’s southern border to first seek asylum in one of the countries they traversed – whether in Mexico, in Central America, or elsewhere on their journey. In most cases, only if that application is denied would they then be able to seek asylum in the United States.
“Ultimately, today’s action will reduce the overwhelming burdens on our domestic system caused by asylum-seekers failing to seek urgent protection in the first available country, economic migrants lacking a legitimate fear of persecution, and the transnational criminal organizations, traffickers, and smugglers exploiting our system for profits,” Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in a statement, describing the “targeted changes” as critical.
Sure to ignite a new firestorm over the administration’s immigration approach, the new policy follows the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, commonly referred to as the “remain in Mexico” policy. Under that policy, asylum seekers were often told to go back to Mexico to await hearings, rather than be allowed to remain in the U.S.