United Nations refugee agency blasts US asylum limits

United Nations refugee agency blasts US asylum limits

Originally Published in CNN

Priscilla Alvarez - August 13, 2020

TIJUANA, MEXICO - MARCH 02: Honduran migrants wait in line to plead their asylum cases at the El Caparrel border crossing on March 2, 2020 in Tijuana, Mexico. A federal appeals court on Friday blocked a Trump administration policy that requires asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. immigration courts.  (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images,)

Over the course of Donald Trump's presidency, the administration has released a series of regulations putting strict restrictions on asylum, setting up a number of obstacles for migrants seeking refuge in the US. At issue in Thursday's filing is a policy that would bar people who illegally cross the US-Mexico border from claiming asylum outside of official ports of entry.
In a proposed amicus brief, the UN refugee agency said the policy, coupled with a 2019 presidential proclamation, "reflects a substantial change to United States asylum policy that, if implemented, would be at variance with three binding international law protections."
Citing coronavirus, Trump administration weighs more restrictions on the US-Mexico border that could include citizens

In late 2018, the Trump administration introduced a new rule that would restrict the ability of those crossing illegally to seek asylum on the southern US border. That regulation was followed by a presidential proclamation in May 2019, when the US was facing a surge of migrants at the southern border.
The policy has been legally challenged and temporarily blocked. The amicus brief filed Thursday is part of an ongoing case in the US Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit.
The UN refugee agency, which is charged with overseeing the implementation of international refugee treaties, warned that the revised asylum policy sets up the US to be in violation of international obligations, specifically the 1967 Protocol and the 1951 convention. Those agreements ensure the protection of refugees.
The US is at odds with the obligations in part because of its categorical denial of asylum to certain migrants and the basis of that denial, irregular border crossing, the agency said.
"Parties may not use border management as a means to deter refugees from seeking asylum or to deny protection to whole classes of asylum-seekers, as many individual class members will have valid claims to protection as refugees under the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol," the agency added.
The 39-page brief submitted by the UN refugee agency is a condemnation of one of many asylum policies introduced by the Trump administration. Last year, for example, the administration ramped up its so-called "remain in Mexico" policy, which requires migrants seeking asylum in the US to wait out the immigration court process in Mexico.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, measures have become more stringent. Citing a public health law, the administration has swiftly removed migrants, including children, arrested at the US-Mexico border, making it nearly impossible to claim asylum in the US.
The administration has since also unveiled a new regulation that provides officials greater discretion in determining who can claim asylum in the US based on health risk.

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