Recent asylum trends and policy shifts
Paths to U.S. asylum have undergone significant changes and challenges in recent years. In 2018 and 2019, a humanitarian crisis unfolded along the U.S.-Mexico border as large numbers of Central American migrants headed for the U.S. border seeking asylum. This great migration brought a major government response.
New cooperative measures between the U.S. and Mexico
The U.S. responded with many efforts to control the influx, including pressuring Mexico to cooperate on helping to control the situation. In June 2019, the governments of Mexico and the U.S. agreed on some collaborative measures that have led Mexico to reform some aspects of its own immigration system.
For one thing, Mexico put a newly formed national guard at the border of Mexico and Guatemala to control the flood of migrants there. Mexico also accepted the U.S. “Remain in Mexico” program that restricted many migrants from crossing the U.S. border until their asylum cases could be heard.
New restrictive policies under consideration in the U.S.
All these developments resulted in fewer asylum seekers arriving at the U.S. border from Mexico. Now, new policies under consideration seem likely to limit pathways to asylum in the U.S.
The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, parts of the federal government, announced new proposed regulations for asylum seekers, published on June 15, 2020. These new regulations, if they are implemented, will likely further restrict asylum.
Some of the new rules would require asylum officers and immigration judges to deny asylum to people who had:
- Passed through at least two countries or stayed in another country for at least 14 days before arriving in the U.S.
- Not reported all income to the IRS or paid taxes on time
- Been in the U.S. without authorization for more than one year
- Filed “frivolous” applications for asylum
The new regulations would also consider other factors such as the following to be “significant adverse factors” affecting possible approval or denial of asylum status:
- If someone had entered the U.S. unlawfully
- If someone had traveled through at least one country while on the way to the U.S. without seeking refuge there
Who would be affected? When and how might these rules become policy?
The proposals would affect people applying for asylum as well as refugees whose cases are already under consideration. The proposed policy changes allow input, including supporting data, from individuals and organizations for 30 days from the date of publication (June 15th). Implementation would affect asylum pathways before long.