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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Bangladesh rescues Rohingya illegally heading for Malaysia


Police are interrogating six people suspected of human trafficking after Bangladeshi guards separately rescued nearly 50 Rohingya refugees from boats heading for Malaysia through the Bay of Bengal, an official said Thursday.

Pradip Kumar Das, officer-in-charge at Teknaf, said they were questioning the suspects to learn about a network of smugglers who may be luring refugees from sprawling camps ahead of a plan to repatriate them.

He said 33 refugees including nine children were rescued from a fishing boat near the Saint Martins Island on Wednesday while another 14 Rohingya were rescued at Shahporir Island a day before. Six suspected Bangladeshi traffickers were also arrested while the rescued refugees were sent back to their camps in the district, he said.

Das said they were lured by the traffickers with promises of marriages and jobs in Malaysia.

He said the rescued refugees told them they paid money to the traffickers who said they would soon land in Malaysia amid fears that they would have no future in Myanmar’s Rakhine state if they are sent back.

“I paid 10,000 takas ($120) to a Rohingya man who told me he will send me to Malaysia. He has chosen a man there for me for my marriage,” 17-year-old Shawkat Ara said.

“I attempted once at night but returned as my boat left before I could reach there recently,” she said.

Bangladesh and Myanmar said recently that the countries want to start repatriation of the refugees in a limited scale from mid-November.

Abul Kalam, a senior Bangladeshi repatriation official in Cox’s Bazar, told The Associated Press that they were preparing to start the repatriation of some 2,660 refugees from 485 families on Nov. 15. But many of the refugees are reluctant to go back, fearing persecution and an uncertain future.

On Tuesday, the United Nations in a statement in Geneva urged Bangladesh and Myanmar to halt the process of sending them back from this month, saying it does not see any guarantee that they would not suffer “the same persecution and horrific violence”.

More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since last year amid an army-led crackdown. Thousands were killed in the violence.

Rohingya Muslims have lived for centuries in Myanmar but they have long been treated as outsiders in a largely Buddhist nation who are denied citizenship and many basic rights. Many in Myanmar ridicule them as “Bengalis” who came from Bangladesh.

The refugees are seeking U.N. protection to return home. The U.N. refugee agency and Bangladesh had earlier finalized a memorandum of understanding that said the repatriation process must be “safe, voluntary and dignified … in line with international standards.”



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Colorado outfitter pleads guilty to hunting illegally on public land, illegal possession of big game


Multiple employees of a Colorado outfitter have come to an agreement with a Colorado District Attorney’s Office after being pleading guilty to numerous illegal hunting practices during the 2016 and 2017 hunting seasons.

Marvin Doherty, the 70-year-old owner of Outdoor Specialist LLC in Hayden, pleaded guilty to illegal sale of wildlife, illegal possession of big-game animals, and illegally baiting big-game after Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) say he and four employees led unwitting clients on illegal hunts in public wildlife areas despite only having licenses valid for private hunts, according to a new release issued by the CPW.

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CPW officials say the men were also guilty of trespassing and harvesting wildlife illegally, specifically elk.

Doherty was handed a four-year deferred sentence — and also banned from hunting for four years — and agreed to pay a $20,000 donation to a wildlife violation hotline. He, along with the four other men identified as co-conspirators, including his son, were ordered to pay additional fines totaling $16,842.

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“They committed numerous crimes including manipulating the system by purchasing licenses available over-the-counter, then used them where they were not supposed to,” said CPW Wildlife Officer Evan Jones in the news release. “Because of this, their clients illegally harvested numerous elk on public land, taking the opportunity away from legal, public land hunters. We are very satisfied with having brought this activity to an end.”

The clients that were led on the hunting excursions will not be charged.

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Doherty also faces losing his outfitters license, and all five of the men may face further restrictions on their individual hunting licenses, the CPW said.

“They thought they could get away with it due to the remoteness of their location,” added CPW Officer Johnathan Lambert. “They thought wrong.”



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Wisconsin hunter cited for illegally shooting elk across the street


A Wisconsin man has been cited for violating a state statute after he shot an elk across a roadway during the state’s inaugural elk hunt.

Joe Wiltzius, 73, of Franklin, was charged with illegally shooting the first bull elk of the season by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Journal Sentinel reports.

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The man was reportedly hunting with a guide and a friend on Oct. 15 when, around 3:30 pm, he fired across the street from 100 yards away.

According to the Sentinel, the men dragged the elk into the woods to gut it and phoned a DNR biologist to verify the kill and take samples.

Dave Zebro, DNR warden supervisor, told the Sentinel the men were interviewed and an investigation was opened into the hunt, which revealed Wiltzius had broken laws, including shooting across a roadway and hunting within 50 feet of the center line of a roadway. He may also face a $2,000 wild animal surcharge for the kill.

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The hide and antlers of the elk were seized by the DNR. The venison will be held until the case is decided, and then will likely be donated to a food pantry, the Sentinel reports.

The friend and guide have not been charged, but the guide may lose his license.

Wiltzius was one of five non-tribal hunters in the state to receive tags through the DNR lottery for the first-ever regulated elk season. Five other tags were reserved for members of Wisconsin’s Native American tribes.

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The state decided to open the hunt this year because the population of elk exceeded 200 — the state requirement for a limited bull hunt.

The DNR received around 38,000 applications and $13,000 in donations for the hunt, the Sentinel reports.

“Many partners and individuals contributed to this great conservation story in Wisconsin, which allowed us to hold this first hunt,” Schaller said to the Sentinel. “The state is dedicated to ensuring hunting laws are honored to make sure it is a fair and safe hunt, and this case is a reflection of that.”

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The state’s elk season will through Nov. 11., and then from Dec. 13 to Dec. 21.



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Mollie Tibbetts murder suspect Cristhian Rivera originally from Mexico, living in US illegally


The suspect in the murder of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts is a 24-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico who had been living in the area for up to seven years, officials revealed Tuesday.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera was apprehended more than a month after the 20-year-old University of Iowa student disappeared, Rick Rahn, special agent in charge with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said during a news conference. Tibbetts was last seen jogging on July 18 near Brooklyn, Iowa — in Poweshiek County, where Rivera lives.

A body believed to be Mollie Tibbetts was discovered earlier Tuesday and Rivera led authorities to the location, Rahn said, adding that her body was found hidden in a corn field beneath several corn stalks.

Rivera was employed for the past four years at Yarrabee Farms, a dairy farm, the company confirmed in a statement to The Associated Press. The company said he was in good standing as a worker and was shocked to learn of his alleged involvement in Tibbetts’ disappearance and murder.

The suspect told law enforcement he approached Tibbetts while she was running, Rahn said.

MOLLIE TIBBETTS MURDER SUSPECT ID’D AS CRISTHIAN RIVERA, 24, LIVING IN US ILLEGALLY

“He actually tells us that he ran alongside of her or behind her. And then at one point, he tells us that Mollie grabbed ahold of her phone and says ‘you need to leave me alone, I’m gonna call the police,’” Rahn said of the interview. “And then she took off running, he, in turn, chased her down. And then he tells us that at some point in time he blacks out and then he comes to near an intersection in which we believe he then placed Mollie.”

Rivera revealed to investigators that he became angry when Tibbetts took out her cell phone, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press. He told authorities that he panicked and “blocked” his memory.

The suspect claimed he didn’t remember what happened next but later realized that he’d put Tibbetts’ in his trunk after finding an earpiece from headphones in his lap, the documents said. He opened the trunk and noticed blood on the side of her head.

Investigators said they believed the suspect had been in the area for four to seven years.

A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs in the window of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hung in the window of a local business on Tuesday in Brooklyn, Iowa.

 (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

“A first-degree murder charge was filed today in connection with the disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts, who was last seen jogging in Brooklyn, Iowa on July 18, 2018,” Rahn said. “A complaint and affidavit names Cristhian Bahena Rivera, age 24, who resides in rural Poweshiek County and he has been charged with murder in the first degree.”

MOLLIE TIBBETTS, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA STUDENT, FOUND DEAD: A TIMELINE OF EVENTS

After Rivera’s arrest, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “lodged a detainer with the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office” on the suspect, who was described as “an illegal alien from Mexico,” the agency confirmed.

With the help of surveillance video obtained from someone living in the area, law enforcement was able to identify a vehicle belonging to the suspect, Rahn said. Investigators saw Tibbetts on the video and realized that Rivera “was one of the last ones to see Mollie running,” Rahn added.

Fox News’ Nicole Darrah, Katherine Lam and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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