President Trump promulgated a decree on Friday to implement his government's new restrictions on asylum protection for people entering the United States illegally, saying large executive authorities will come into effect after midnight but could be challenged in a federal court.
Under new measures announced Thursday by officials, Trump will support the same urgent authority as that invoked during his "travel ban" in early 2017 to ban anyone illegally crossing the Mexican border to qualify for asylum.
These protections will remain available to those who apply at US border points or US ports of entry, and the restrictions will not apply to minor refugee claimants who arrive without a parent or guardian.
In his proclamation, Trump said the measures were necessary to prepare for the arrival of thousands of Central Americans traveling in caravan groups across Mexico to the US border, without any "apparent legal basis to enter our country. country".
"The arrival of a large number of foreigners will contribute to overburdening our immigration and asylum system and the release of thousands of foreigners to the interior of the states. United States, "says the proclamation.
"Continuous and threatened mass migration of foreigners without any basis to enter the United States by the southern border has precipitated a crisis and undermined the integrity of our borders," he continues. "I must therefore take immediate measures to protect the national interest and maintain the effectiveness of the asylum system for legitimate asylum seekers who demonstrate that they have fled the persecution. and guarantee the many special benefits associated with asylum. "
The number of asylum applications has quadrupled since 2014, constituting a backlog of more than 750,000 cases in US immigration courts.
Emergency restrictions imposed by the Trump administration would still allow asylum seekers to claim a lesser legal status, known as the "removal ban," which would temporarily save them from deportation.
This status would not give any chance of obtaining legal permanent residence or citizenship, but it would still give those who enter illegally a way to avoid being sent back to Central America. they can convince an American asylum officer that they are facing "reasonable fear". persecution.
According to the White House's proclamation released Friday, the asylum restrictions will remain in effect for 90 days and would end if the Mexican government accepted a long-standing US request for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). to expel the Central Americans to Mexico when they entered the Mexican territory.
The Mexican government has not indicated its intention to do so.
It is estimated that between 7,000 and 10,000 people of Central American origin travel across Mexico in caravans, the largest of which is about to leave Mexico City after resting for several days in a sports complex.
The Mexican authorities said that nearly 5,000 migrants were traveling with this group, the vast majority of whom came from Honduras, where the caravan was created. Of these, more than 1,700 are under the age of 18 and at most 300 today, under five years old.
Many say they are fleeing gang violence and death threats and plan to seek humanitarian protection in the United States. Others admit to looking for a job or meeting with family members, motivations that would not qualify them for asylum under US law.
The group plans to travel more than 1,000 kilometers to the US Tijuana border crossing, a trip that could take several weeks if members of the caravan continue to walk and hitchhike the car. most of the way.
A large number of Central Americans are already lined up in informal waiting lines in the Tijuana region, as US customs officials limit the number of asylum seekers allowed to approach the border post every day, invoking limits of capacity and staff.
Senior government officials have given no indication that they plan to increase resources and staff in the San Diego area to cope with a potentially significant increase in the number of people approaching the ports of entry.
An official of Homeland Security, who requested the anonymity of his agency, criticized the caravan's decision to take a much longer route to San Diego, instead of approaching the US border south of Texas, much closer geographically.
"The principle that persons alleged to be fleeing persecution on the basis of legitimate claims would decide, instead of protecting themselves in Mexico or at the nearest US entry points, to travel an additional 1,000 km to a specific port. entry to pursue their claim challenges the legitimacy "of this claim, said the official.
The longest ride to Tijuana is considered safer for migrants who can not afford a smuggler's guide. Shorter routes to the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas are under the control of criminal groups that routinely kill and remove those who do not pay tolls to cross the territory under their control.
Immigrant advocacy groups who have denounced Trump's new restrictions say US laws clearly protect foreigners arriving in the United States and fear return, regardless of where they live.
Trump officials said the Supreme Court upheld the president's executive authority over immigration. They cite presidential powers under Section 212 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the same provision used by Trump to block foreigners from several Muslim-majority countries in the context of the Prohibition to travel.
The ban prompted numerous court challenges and forced the administration to publish three different versions before the revised version was confirmed in June by 5-4 votes in the Supreme Court.