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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Amazon met with ICE officials over facial-recognition system to identify immigrants


Amazon pitched its facial-recognition system to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials this summer as a way for the agency to target or identify immigrants, according to newly disclosed emails released this week.

The emails, which were first published by the Daily Beast, were revealed as part of a Freedom of Information Act request by the advocacy group Project on Government Oversight, show that officials from ICE and Amazon discussed using the tech giant’s controversial Rekognition face-scanning platform to assist with homeland security work.

An Amazon Web Services official writes in one of the emails: “We are ready and willing to support the vital (Homeland Security Investigations) mission.”

Amazon Web Services, which develops and sells cloud computing, told The Washington Post in a statement, “We participated with a number of other technology companies in technology ‘boot camps’ sponsored by McKinsey Company, where a number of technologies were discussed, including Rekognition.” Amazon said it “followed up with customers who were interested in learning more about how to use our services (Immigration and Customs Enforcement was one of those organizations where there was follow-up discussion).”

GOOGLE BRINGS PRIVACY, DATA CONTROLS TO SEARCH

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, speaks at The Economic Club of Washington's Milestone Celebration in Washington.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, speaks at The Economic Club of Washington’s Milestone Celebration in Washington.
(Associated Press)

The revelation is the latest in a series of controversies roiling big tech, which, despite its longstanding ties to the U.S. government, is now seeing some of its employees revolt against any cooperation with ICE or the Department of Defense under the Trump administration.

A group of 450 Amazon employees signed a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos saying that its facial-recognition should not be used by police officers nationwide; 300 workers at Microsoft protested that company’s $19.4 million contract with ICE; and Google has faced intense pressure from some employees over its planned censored Chinese search engine, Dragonfly, and its artificial intelligence work on a Defense Department initiative known as Project Maven.

F-35 COMBAT MISSIONS NOW HAVE OPERATIONAL ‘THREAT LIBRARY’ OF MISSION DATA FILES

“If they have this technology, I can see it being used in any way they think will help them increase the numbers of detentions, apprehensions, and removals,” Alonzo Peña, who served as deputy director of ICE and was previously special agent-in-charge of its field offices in San Antonio, Phoenix and Houston, told the Daily Beast. Possible abuse “should be an area of concern, given this new technology—there’s potential for its use to be very widespread.”

Meanwhile, ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke told The Post that the immigration enforcement agency “may use various investigative techniques and technological tools to accomplish its mission to protect the United States from cross-border crimes and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety.”

Bezos defended his company’s cooperation with the U.S. government, telling a tech conference gathering recently that “we are in big trouble” if tech companies turn their back on the Pentagon, adding: “This is a great country, and it does need to be defended.”



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ICE forced to release illegal immigrants ‘out of the front door’ in Arizona amid space crunch, border surge


Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials – faced with a lack of housing space, an agreement that limits how long they can detain families and a massive increase in the number of border crossers – are having to resort to releasing illegal immigrants and asylum seekers “out of the front door” in Arizona.

Sheriff Leon Wilmot, head of the Arizona Sheriff’s Association, told Fox News that sheriffs have been told ICE has run out of available space in its detention facilities and has not been able to keep up with the pace of people crossing the border of presenting themselves at ports of entry.

“ICE hasn’t been able to keep up with individuals coming up the border from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, because they’re overwhelmed,” he said. “They’re releasing them out of the front door of their facilities.”

According to Customs and Border Protection, as of September, more than 90,000 family units have been detained in fiscal 2018 along with than 45,000 unaccompanied minors. The Arizona Republic reported that the agency released at least 800 family members in the state last week. Activists that work with migrants told the outlet they think ICE is releasing immigrants in large numbers to create a “manufactured crisis” ahead of the November midterms.

ICE said in a statement that, starting last Monday, ICE began releasing family units from centers in Arizona without a so-called “post-release plan” — which would normally include a transportation plan and a way to get to any relatives already in the country. Those detained are released with a notice to appear before a court hearing to adjudicate their immigration case, or in some cases paroled with supervision requirements.

ICE is limited by how long it can hold family units (FAMUs) in detention due to the 1997 Flores settlement agreement, which limits the amount of time minors can be detained to 20 days. The Trump administration is currently challenging that agreement in court after it backed down on a “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all who crossed the border illegally — a policy that necessitated the separation of children from accompanying adults due to Flores.

In a statement, ICE said that individuals would normally be released only after a “post-release plan” was reviewed, including making sure they had the means to reach a final destination.

“However, due to the recent uptick in FAMUs presenting themselves along the Arizona border, ICE no longer has the capacity to conduct these reviews without risking violation of the Flores limitations on lengths of stay for families in both CBP and ICE custody,” the statement said. “To mitigate that risk, ICE began to curtail such reviews in Arizona beginning Sunday October 7.”

Wilmot told Fox News that, in the last week, a non-governmental organization has been providing housing and transportation to some migrants, but others are being left to their own devices. With 160 border crossers a day in Arizona’s Yuma sector alone, he said the system is overwhelmed and Border Patrol is being tied up with housing, feeding and paying hospital bills for those injured while crossing the border.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., raised the question to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a Senate hearing last week, saying he had been contacted by the Yuma mayor who had expressed concern at the mass release without review.

“The community reaches out and does a lot of this itself; but, if these reviews are not being done because the numbers are too overwhelming, then the fact is that people in Yuma are going to be threatened to some extent by an enormous number of illegal entrants into the country, and some of whom may not be making asylum claims. Some of these people may be dangerous, notwithstanding the fact that they have children with them,” he said.

Nielsen said officials “spend quite a bit of time with [families] to determine where they would like to go, where their family — if they have some — is in the United States” when possible. But she said, “When we’re not able because we don’t have space or because we can’t keep them in a facility long enough to have that conversation, what we do — and, what you’ve seen in Yuma — is we reach out to the NGO community and try to work with them to receive them as they come out of our care.”

Nielsen said the increase in family units crossing the border between July and August was 30 percent and her department was asking Congress to pass legislation that allows families to be detained until they are deported or the asylum claim is adjudicated.

Wilmot said the crisis at the border eclipses the one that faced the Obama administration in 2015. He also warned that, while Arizona is facing the brunt of the problem, it is an issue that will affect other communities as eventually those migrants would begin moving to other parts of the country.

“Each of our communities are going to be faced with this crisis and one thing sheriffs have said is that what goes on on the border stays on the border, it’s throughout the U.S.,” he said.

TRUMP THREATENS TO CUT AID FROM HONDURAS AS NEW MIGRANT CARAVAN NEARS US

The controversy in Arizona comes as Trump is drawing attention to the migrant crisis ahead of the midterms, and is pointing to the presence of another migrant caravan heading through Honduras and Guatemala toward the U.S. border.

Trump threatened Tuesday to cut aid to any countries assisting the caravan on its journey to the U.S.

“Hard to believe that with thousands of people from South of the Border, walking unimpeded toward our country in the form of large Caravans, that the Democrats won’t approve legislation that will allow laws for the protection of our country,” he tweeted. “Great Midterm issue for Republicans!”



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ICE forced to release illegal immigrants ‘out of the front door’ in Arizona amid space crunch, border surge


Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials – faced with a lack of housing space, an agreement that limits how long they can detain families and a massive increase in the number of border crossers – are having to resort to releasing illegal immigrants and asylum seekers “out of the front door” in Arizona.

Sheriff Leon Wilmot, head of the Arizona Sheriff’s Association, told Fox News that sheriffs have been told ICE has run out of available space in its detention facilities and has not been able to keep up with the pace of people crossing the border of presenting themselves at ports of entry.

“ICE hasn’t been able to keep up with individuals coming up the border from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, because they’re overwhelmed,” he said. “They’re releasing them out of the front door of their facilities.”

According to Customs and Border Protection, as of September, more than 90,000 family units have been detained in fiscal 2018 along with than 45,000 unaccompanied minors. The Arizona Republic reported that the agency released at least 800 family members in the state last week. Activists that work with migrants told the outlet they think ICE is releasing immigrants in large numbers to create a “manufactured crisis” ahead of the November midterms.

ICE said in a statement that, starting last Monday, ICE began releasing family units from centers in Arizona without a so-called “post-release plan” — which would normally include a transportation plan and a way to get to any relatives already in the country. Those detained are released with a notice to appear before a court hearing to adjudicate their immigration case, or in some cases paroled with supervision requirements.

ICE is limited by how long it can hold family units (FAMUs) in detention due to the 1997 Flores settlement agreement, which limits the amount of time minors can be detained to 20 days. The Trump administration is currently challenging that agreement in court after it backed down on a “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all who crossed the border illegally — a policy that necessitated the separation of children from accompanying adults due to Flores.

In a statement, ICE said that individuals would normally be released only after a “post-release plan” was reviewed, including making sure they had the means to reach a final destination.

“However, due to the recent uptick in FAMUs presenting themselves along the Arizona border, ICE no longer has the capacity to conduct these reviews without risking violation of the Flores limitations on lengths of stay for families in both CBP and ICE custody,” the statement said. “To mitigate that risk, ICE began to curtail such reviews in Arizona beginning Sunday October 7.”

Wilmot told Fox News that, in the last week, a non-governmental organization has been providing housing and transportation to some migrants, but others are being left to their own devices. With 160 border crossers a day in Arizona’s Yuma sector alone, he said the system is overwhelmed and Border Patrol is being tied up with housing, feeding and paying hospital bills for those injured while crossing the border.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., raised the question to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a Senate hearing last week, saying he had been contacted by the Yuma mayor who had expressed concern at the mass release without review.

“The community reaches out and does a lot of this itself; but, if these reviews are not being done because the numbers are too overwhelming, then the fact is that people in Yuma are going to be threatened to some extent by an enormous number of illegal entrants into the country, and some of whom may not be making asylum claims. Some of these people may be dangerous, notwithstanding the fact that they have children with them,” he said.

Nielsen said officials “spend quite a bit of time with [families] to determine where they would like to go, where their family — if they have some — is in the United States” when possible. But she said, “When we’re not able because we don’t have space or because we can’t keep them in a facility long enough to have that conversation, what we do — and, what you’ve seen in Yuma — is we reach out to the NGO community and try to work with them to receive them as they come out of our care.”

Nielsen said the increase in family units crossing the border between July and August was 30 percent and her department was asking Congress to pass legislation that allows families to be detained until they are deported or the asylum claim is adjudicated.

Wilmot said the crisis at the border eclipses the one that faced the Obama administration in 2015. He also warned that, while Arizona is facing the brunt of the problem, it is an issue that will affect other communities as eventually those migrants would begin moving to other parts of the country.

“Each of our communities are going to be faced with this crisis and one thing sheriffs have said is that what goes on on the border stays on the border, it’s throughout the U.S.,” he said.

TRUMP THREATENS TO CUT AID FROM HONDURAS AS NEW MIGRANT CARAVAN NEARS US

The controversy in Arizona comes as Trump is drawing attention to the migrant crisis ahead of the midterms, and is pointing to the presence of another migrant caravan heading through Honduras and Guatemala toward the U.S. border.

Trump threatened Tuesday to cut aid to any countries assisting the caravan on its journey to the U.S.

“Hard to believe that with thousands of people from South of the Border, walking unimpeded toward our country in the form of large Caravans, that the Democrats won’t approve legislation that will allow laws for the protection of our country,” he tweeted. “Great Midterm issue for Republicans!”



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DHS plan would push immigrants to ‘show they can support themselves,’ Nielsen says


Immigrants to the United States who are overly reliant on public assistance may soon find it more difficult to remain in the country.

In a 447-page proposal posted online Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security calls for immigrants to be denied permanent residency if they’ve received or are likely to receive benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid or housing vouchers.

“Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement to the Washington Post.

“Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially.”

– Kirstjen Nielsen, U.S. secretary of Homeland Security

The proposed changes would “promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers,” Nielsen added.

President Trump has said he wants to replace the current immigration system with a merit-based one, based on job skills.

Green card applicants are already required by federal law to prove they will not be a burden – or “public charge” – but the proposal would expand the number programs that could disqualify them.

Under the rule, denials for green cards can be issued if an immigrant received government benefits for up to 15 percent of the poverty level – $1,821 for an individual and $3,765 for a family of four, Politico reported.

DHS will allow a 60-day period for public comment on the proposal before it is published in the Federal Register. Afterward, the agency will make changes based on public feedback before issuing a final rule. The agency anticipates court challenges to any change, the Post reported.

If adopted, the changes would affect those applying for immigration visas or those with temporary residency who want to stay in the country, and could affect the more than 600,000 participants in DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) — the Obama-era “Dreamers” program — if they file for permanent residency, according to the Post.

The proposal would have little effect on undocumented immigrants or foreigners who apply for “temporary protected status” to remain in the U.S. after a natural disaster or armed conflict in their home countries.

Critics see the measure as just another attempt to restrict legal immigration and force low-income families to choose between receiving public assistance or staying in the United States.

“This would force families — including citizen children — to choose between getting the help they need and remaining in their communities,” said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “The last thing the federal government should do is punish families that have fallen on hard times for feeding their children or keeping a roof over their heads and avoiding homelessness.”

Some immigrants have already decided to forgo benefits in fear for being deported.

The Post reported that 3.7 percent of the 41.5 million immigrants living in the U.S. received cash benefits in 2013 and 22.7 percent received other forms of assistance like Medicaid, housing subsidies or home heating assistance.

The percentage of native-born Americans who get the same forms of assistance in 2015 was nearly identical.

The changes could expand disparities in health insurance rates between children with native-born parents and those with immigrant parents.

The timing of the proposal, along with an announcement earlier this week that the administration will admit no more than 30,000 refugees in the next fiscal year, could stir up the Republican Party’s base.

“We can be choosy about who we allow into the country,” said Hans von Spakovsky, a senior fellow with the conservative Heritage Foundation. “One of the primary factors ought to be ensuring that the legal immigrants who come in are people who can financially support themselves.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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