US To Deny Asylum To Immigrants Crossing Border Illegally


There is a backlog of more than 700,000 cases of migrants seeking legal asylum in the US

Washington: 

The United States will no longer allow people who enter the country illegally to claim asylum, officials said Thursday, unveiling a controversial new crackdown on immigration.

The restriction on asylum claims will seek to address what a senior administration official called the “historically unparalleled abuse of our immigration system” along the border with Mexico.

The new rule was published by the Department of Homeland Security and is expected to get President Donald Trump’s signature shortly — as well as face court challenges.

The American Civil Liberties Union said that the right to request asylum must be granted to anyone entering the country, regardless of where they were.

“US law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree,” the ACLU said.

But according to the new rule, Trump has authority to restrict illegal immigration “if he determines it to be in the national interest.”

Trump’s administration argues that he has the executive power to curb immigration in the name of national security, a power he invoked right after taking office with a controversial ban on travelers from several mostly-Muslim countries — whose final version was upheld by the US Supreme Court on June 26 after a protracted legal battle.

“Today’s rule applies this important principle to aliens who violate such a suspension or restriction regarding the southern border,” Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker said.

Those seeking political or other kinds of asylum — nearly all of them coming from impoverished and violent crime-plagued countries of Central America — will be heard exclusively at the border crossings, administration officials told journalists.

This is expected to put a dent in those streaming into an already overburdened system, officials said, noting that there is a backlog of more than 700,000 cases in the immigration courts.

Campaign controversy

Many politicians on both sides of the aisle agree that the US immigration system is hugely inefficient and unable to cope with demand. However, Trump’s focus on the issue during campaigning for Tuesday’s hotly contested midterm congressional elections was criticized as veering into immigrant-bashing and even racism.

In speeches and on Twitter, Trump hammered away nearly daily at “caravans” of a few thousand impoverished Central Americans that periodically attempt to walk up through Mexico and then gain entry to the United States.

He called a current caravan, which is still hundreds of miles from the US border and dwindling in numbers, an “invasion” and said it would bring hardened criminals to US streets.

Administration officials say that aside from the rhetoric the border really does have a problem, given that anyone who manages to get across can request asylum and subsequently often vanish while their case sits in the court system.

“The vast majority of these applications eventually turn out to be non-meritorious,” a senior administration official said, asking not to be identified.

Less than 10 percent of cases result in asylum being granted, the government says.

Human rights campaigners and other critics of the Trump crackdown say that by restricting asylum seekers to the narrow border crossing points — which are already under enormous pressure — the government is effectively shutting the door on people who may truly be fleeing for their lives.

But the administration official argued that “what we’re attempting to do is trying to funnel credible fear claims, or asylum claims, through the ports of entry where we are better resourced.”

That way, he said, courts will “handle those claims in an expeditious and efficient manner, so that those who do actually require an asylum protection get those protections.”

In 2018, border patrols have registered more than 400,000 illegal border crossers, homeland security said. And in the last five years, the number of those requesting asylum has increased by 2,000 percent, it said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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British school reports boy, 15, to authorities over fears he’s 30-year-old asylum seeker


A school pupil is being investigated by British authorities after parents claimed he lied about his age and is in fact a 30-year-old man.

One student at Stoke High School in Ipswich took a picture of the individual wearing a school uniform in a year 11 lesson, adding the caption: “How’s there a 30-year-old man in our maths class”.

The pupil claims to be 15 years old, however other students told their parents he may be much older than he says he is.

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It had been suggested that the individual is an asylum seeker who arrived in the U.K. without any paperwork, making it difficult to identify his age.

Students and parents claim he lied to British authorities about his age to get an education, as his previous qualifications were not recognized in the UK.

The Home Office has taken on the investigation into the age of the pupil and how he became enrolled at the school.

ASYLUM REQUESTS OVERWHELM US IMMIGRATION SYSTEM: A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS

When asked for a comment a spokesman for the Home Office said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”

Sources at the Home Office confirmed that the investigation was being treated “seriously” and appealed for the pupil to be given privacy.

This story originally appeared in The Sun. For more from The Sun, click here.



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Cyprus to seek EU help on growing asylum applications


Cyprus will coordinate with other front-line Mediterranean countries bearing the brunt of new migrant arrivals to demand that other European Union member states take in more people who have been granted asylum, the island nation’s interior minister said Wednesday.

Constantinos Petrides said the east Mediterranean country will enact a raft of measures to ease a “disproportionate burden” it now bears as it comes under increasing strain from a surge in the number of asylum applications.

Petrides said Cyprus ranks first among EU member states in the number of asylum applications relative to its population, which is around 1.1 million. In the first eight months of 2018, more than 4,000 asylum applications were submitted compared with 2,600 over the same period last year. In all of 2016, asylum applications spiked by 56 percent compared to the previous year.

Asylum applications are still pending for 7,400 other people. Adding to concerns has been the arrival in recent days of around 140 asylum-seekers from Lebanon, Turkey and Syria.

“If these numbers continue to increase, I admit that we will no longer be able to cope with it,” Petrides said after a meeting with his counterparts from the ministries of foreign affairs, labor and justice to decide on a plan of action to counter the problem.

Petrides said the first priority is face-to-face talks with senior EU officials, including foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Cypriot ministers will also meet with colleagues from other EU partners facing the same problem to demand that the bloc adopts a system that would fairly distribute those granted asylum among all member states.

“A new European Union migration policy must not place a disproportionate burden on front-line countries and small countries that because of their size can’t create those conditions to absorb all those inflows,” Petrides said.

Other measures include negotiating readmission agreements with other countries including Lebanon, which Petrides said has recently seen a spike in the number of migrants leaving the country.

Marine patrols will be stepped up as will high-tech monitoring along the 180-kilometer (120-mile) U.N.-controlled buffer zone that splits the ethnically divided island into an internationally recognized south and a breakaway, Turkish Cypriot north. Petrides said so far this year, 1,520 migrants have crossed over from the north.

New, expedited vetting procedures also will be enacted to weed out what Petrides called “obviously groundless” asylum applications from individuals hailing from what are listed as “safe countries of origin” in order to better offer protection to people fleeing either armed conflict or persecution.

Cyprus lies just 160 kilometers (100 miles) east of the Syrian coastline, but had initially avoided a big influx of migrants fleeing conflict because most wanted to reach mainland Europe. Petrides said the island now appears to have become a final destination for many still seeking asylum as other countries have closed their doors.



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Rights groups alarmed over Thai detention of asylum seekers


Human rights groups expressed alarm Thursday at Thailand’s detention of more than 160 asylum seekers from hill tribe ethnic minorities in Vietnam and Cambodia, saying they face possible persecution if returned to their homelands.

Thai and international rights groups said the asylum seekers were rounded up Tuesday in a northern suburb of Bangkok and charged with immigration law violations.

The Thai group Human Rights Lawyers Association said some had cards from the U.N. refugee agency identifying them as having been certified as refugees. The group said the detainees, from the Jarai and other minorities, “fled persecution, discrimination and repression” in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Many hill tribe minorities — often collectively called “Montagnards”— aligned themselves closely with the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, and were treated with suspicion and repression by Communist victors after the war. Some groups’ identification as Christians continues to put them at odds with the ruling Communist authorities in Vietnam, and occasional unrest in their Central Highlands homeland always triggers sharp crackdowns.

Puttanee Kangkun, a human rights worker with the group Fortify Rights, said the 38 detainees from Cambodia could be sent directly back under a bilateral agreement, but there is no such agreement with Vietnam, which means the other detainees must face trial before any further action against them is considered. They were tried and found guilty Thursday, Puttanee said. Those unable to pay fines could be detained indefinitely.

She said officials from Thailand’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security had separated children from their parents in the arrested group to be cared for outside of detention centers until their parents are released.

The Human Rights Lawyers Association said that although Thailand is not part of the United Nation’s 1951 Refugee Convention, it is still responsible under customary international law to not send back refugees who risk harassment or abuse, a practice known as “non-refoulement.”

Thailand generally has a history of tolerance toward asylum seekers in a region where unrest has led many in neighboring countries to seek refuge from war and unrest. However, political considerations, especially connected to foreign policy, sometimes result in hard-line actions, most notably in recent decades with the forced repatriation of ethnic Hmong to Laos and Muslim Uighurs to China.



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Rights groups alarmed over Thai detention of asylum seekers


Human rights groups expressed alarm Thursday at Thailand’s detention of more than 160 asylum seekers from hill tribe ethnic minorities in Vietnam and Cambodia, saying they face possible persecution if returned to their homelands.

Thai and international rights groups said the asylum seekers were rounded up Tuesday in a northern suburb of Bangkok and charged with immigration law violations.

The Thai group Human Rights Lawyers Association said some had cards from the U.N. refugee agency identifying them as having been certified as refugees. The group said the detainees, from the Jarai and other minorities, “fled persecution, discrimination and repression” in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Many hill tribe minorities — often collectively called “Montagnards”— aligned themselves closely with the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, and were treated with suspicion and repression by Communist victors after the war. Some groups’ identification as Christians continues to put them at odds with the ruling Communist authorities in Vietnam, and occasional unrest in their Central Highlands homeland always triggers sharp crackdowns.

Puttanee Kangkun, a human rights worker with the group Fortify Rights, said the 38 detainees from Cambodia could be sent directly back under a bilateral agreement, but there is no such agreement with Vietnam, which means the other detainees must face trial before any further action against them is considered. They were tried and found guilty Thursday, Puttanee said. Those unable to pay fines could be detained indefinitely.

She said officials from Thailand’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security had separated children from their parents in the arrested group to be cared for outside of detention centers until their parents are released.

The Human Rights Lawyers Association said that although Thailand is not part of the United Nation’s 1951 Refugee Convention, it is still responsible under customary international law to not send back refugees who risk harassment or abuse, a practice known as “non-refoulement.”

Thailand generally has a history of tolerance toward asylum seekers in a region where unrest has led many in neighboring countries to seek refuge from war and unrest. However, political considerations, especially connected to foreign policy, sometimes result in hard-line actions, most notably in recent decades with the forced repatriation of ethnic Hmong to Laos and Muslim Uighurs to China.



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