The Supreme Court Permits Changes in Asylum Policies

On September 11, the Supreme Court permitted the Trump administration to deny asylum claims to those who didn’t first seek protection in a country through which they traveled to reach the U.S. southern border. What this means is that migrants who seek asylum at America’s southern borders without first seeking protection in another country they traveled through can be denied. This is the latest policy the Trump administration has attempted to implement in the last two years. According to the U.S. Border Patrol reports, they have intercepted more than 800,000 migrants and asylum-seekers at the U.S./Mexico border in the 2019 fiscal year.

Details About Asylum Ban 2.0

This new policy, colloquially called “asylum ban 2.0.," affects migrants who arrived, entered, or attempted to enter the United States through the southern border on or after July 16, 2019. Migrants who seek asylum and entered ports of entry through the southern border before July 16th should be prepared to prove they were in the United States prior to that date. Unfortunately, this policy doesn’t make any exceptions for unaccompanied children. The Asylum Ban 2.0 doesn’t, however, apply to Mexican citizens since they don’t travel through a third country.

The Trump administration argued that migrants are not entitled to pick their most preferred country in which to seek asylum, but rather they should be applying for protection at “the first available opportunity” if they are truly at risk. The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security wrote that it “raises questions about the validity and urgency of the alien’s claim.”

According to the AILA's Asylum & Refugee Committee, there are a few exceptions to the asylum policy:

The following exceptions apply: (1) individuals who did apply for such protection in a transit country but were denied; (2) victims of "severe forms of trafficking;" (3) individuals who did not transit through any countries that are signatories to the relevant international instruments (both Mexico and Guatemala are signatories).

The ‘Catch & Release’ Policy Ends

Within one week after the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Act Homeland Security Secretary, Kevin McAleenan, announced an end to the ‘catch and release’ policy. “Catch and release refers to a longstanding U.S. policy that allowed apprehended migrants to be freed in the United States as they await an immigration court hears weeks or even months later. Migrants will no longer have the ability to remain in the United States for a court order.

Is Asylum No Longer Available in the United States?

The availability to claim asylum still exists through other means. For example, those who fly to the United States and enter on a visa can seek protection if they have suffered persecution or feared that they would suffer persecution. However, claiming asylum is no guarantee of being granted protection. In fact, the denial rate for asylum cases has increased from 42% to 65% in the last year. Migrants ineligible for asylum under this regulation may still qualify for the Convention Against Torture (CAT) protection. However, CAT doesn’t grant permanent forms of relief, and they require applicants to meet a higher standard of proof. CAT also doesn’t provide benefits for family members of asylum seekers.

If you need guidance while seeking asylum, contact our New Jersey immigration attorneys today. We are here to help you every step of the way: (800) 909-8129!