Trump administration seeks to end asylum at the border

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NCLR says this decision will be a death sentence for LGBTQs from Central America

Those seeking asylum in the United States were effectively told on Monday they will have to find it elsewhere. The Trump administration moved to end asylum for nearly all those seeking it at the U.S. and Mexico border. It would bar anyone from claiming asylum if they had passed through another country en route to the United States, which covers anyone other than Mexican residents.

Putting this rule into place will effectively eliminate U.S. asylum law. Before the rule’s effective date, the law established a legal right to those who sought protection at the U.S. border,. It allowed individuals to make a case that they face torture or persecution in their home country. It had applied regardless of how the person reached the U.S. border. It also gives a major exception in cases in which the U.S. has negotiated a “safe third country” agreement with another government. America has such an agreement with Canada, where migrants must apply in the first safe country they reach.

The new rule, issued by the Justice and Homeland Security departments would apply only to those arriving in the U.S., not migrants already here.

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“This rule is inconsistent with both domestic and international law, and we intend to sue immediately to block it,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s national Immigrants’ Rights Project. “If allowed to stand, it would effectively end asylum at the southern border and could not be more inconsistent with our country’s commitment to protecting those in danger.”

Those who would feel the brunt of the rule’s effect will be Central American families and unaccompanied minors, who are a larger number of the recent surge of migrants at the U.S. and Mexico border. It would apply to any nationality, including Haitians, Cubans, and Africans who go through South and Central America and Mexico to claim asylum.

“With limited exceptions, an alien who enters or attempts to enter the United States across the southern border after failing to apply for protection in a third country outside the alien’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence through which the alien transited en route to the United States is ineligible for asylum,” the rule states.

At a large risk would be the LGBTQ populations fleeing oppression and violence at home in intolerant and hostile countries.

“This will be a death sentence for many LGBTQ people,” Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement. “This proposed rule is based on the cruel fiction that the very same governments that are brutally persecuting LGBTQ people will give them a fair opportunity to apply for asylum. In reality, as this administration knows, the rule will cut off any realistic possibility of escaping from life-threatening violence and persecution. It is imperative that anyone who cares about the survival of LGBTQ people in Central America submit comments opposing this rule.”