The Trump administration is implementing a new asylum policy at the border that will result in potentially thousands of asylum seekers being turned away before they can plead their case in court.
The guidance, reviewed by CNN, also applies to refugee applicants – immigrants seeking similar protections in the US who are still abroad.
Under new guidance given Wednesday to the officers who interview asylum seekers at the US’ borders and evaluate refugee applications, claims based on fear of gang and domestic violence will be immediately rejected.
In addition, the guidance tells officers they should consider whether an immigrant crossed the border illegally and weigh that against their claim, potentially rejecting even legitimate fears of persecution if the immigrant crossed illegally.
Trump administration may further restrict asylum rights
The move is likely to draw swift condemnation from immigration advocates and legal challenges. Advocates say international law is clear that asylum claims are valid even when a migrant enters a country illegally.
They also argue that rejecting these traumatized immigrants puts their lives at risk immediately upon their return home.
The changes being implemented by the Department of Homeland Security come on the heels of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision last month that gang and domestic violence victims no longer qualify for asylum.
Asylum protects migrants already in the US who fear persecution in their home country. Sessions used his unique authority as attorney general last month to overturn an immigration appellate court’s decision to the contrary, reversing course after years of allowing such victims to stay. His decision is now binding for all the immigration judges in the country.