The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new rule Monday indicating that migrants who cross the southern border are not eligible for asylum unless they apply in the first safe country they enter.
The rule, which only applies to prospective claims and will be finalized Tuesday, would effectively torpedo the current flood of asylum seekers, which consists mainly of Central American migrants who cross through multiple countries before reaching the U.S.
Migrants who claim credible fear when they reach the U.S. — but did not apply for asylum in a country they traversed through, whether Mexico, Guatemala, etc. — will thus be removed. The DOJ and DHS said that they expect the rule will allow them to more efficiently process asylum claims, which have recently backlogged the immigration system.
The ruling stems from provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act, which states that migrants denied asylum will be sent back to the country they traversed through, and that migrants cannot resettle in another country and then come to the U.S. to claim asylum.
In order to be considered safe, the countries will need to be a signatory on one of three international treaties: the 1951 Refugee Convention, the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, or the UN Convention against Torture. If the migrant passes through countries that are not a signatory on any of the three they may still seek asylum in the United States.
“The United States is a generous country but is being completely overwhelmed by the burdens associated with apprehending and processing hundreds of thousands of aliens along the southern border. This Rule will decrease forum shopping by economic migrants and those who seek to exploit our asylum system to obtain entry to the United States—while ensuring that no one is removed from the United States who is more likely than not to be tortured or persecuted on account of a protected ground.”