Trump's New Asylum Rules Go Into Effect, And Opponents Sue
Speaker 1: 00:00 Migrants waiting to state their claim to asylum in the u s remain in uncertain territory. There is no sign that many of the thousands at the Tijuana border are giving up in light of the new asylum restrictions announced by the Trump administration when the new policy was announced Monday a lawsuit challenging. It was expected quickly and yesterday the American Civil Liberties Union led that effort filing a suit in federal court in San Francisco. Joining me as attorney legal learnd, he is deputy director of the ACLU immigrants rights project and Lee, welcome to the program. Speaker 2: 00:32 Thank you for having me. Speaker 1: 00:33 Can you first explain to us the substance of this new asylum restriction policy? As you understand it, does it only apply to the US Mexico border and if so, why? Speaker 2: 00:43 It only applies at the southern border and I think that's where the administration has focused its attacks. What essentially this will do is eliminate asylum or virtually eliminated at the southern border, which seems to have been the administration's intent all along. What the, what this says is if you've come through another country, you cannot apply for asylum. Well that's virtually everyone other than Mexicans. And so what, what we'll see essentially is people not being able to apply for asylum and only limited forms of relief that are extremely difficult to get. And these are people who are fleeing serious, serious danger. And that's why they're willing to wait in Mexico if they absolutely have to because it's just too dangerous to go home. And what we have said is, look, this is ultimately a fight between the president, the administration and Congress. Because Congress passes the asylum laws. Speaker 2: 01:41 Congress made it absolutely clear that transiting through another country does not render you ineligible for asylum. You administration is ultimately simply on happy with what Congress has done. And that's really where they need to focus their attention that they want the laws changed. They need to go to Congress. I mean this is the second time that the administration has enacted an asylum ban. We got the first one and joined. And what the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said is, look, your fight is not what the court's, your fight is not with immigrants. It's with Congress. Congress wanted people to have the ability to seek asylum. If you want this almost change, you need to go to Congress. And that's what we're saying. Again, Congress has laws are clear. If the administration doesn't like them, they need to lobby Congress to change them. Speaker 1: 02:29 Do you also claim that this uh, restriction violates international law? Speaker 2: 02:35 We believe it does violate international law. And one thing that's important to know is that after World War II, the entire world came together and passed international laws saying, look, we're not going to let people fleeing persecution be sent back any longer. So all of these international treaties were passed. Congress then said we need to build those into our domestic laws and them after international laws. So we have now had asylum laws that run parallel to international laws for decades. So we believe it violates both domestic and international law. But our lawsuit focuses on domestic law. What Congress has done. Speaker 1: 03:14 Is it clear to the HCLU at what point US asylum officers are applying this new policy? Speaker 2: 03:21 Well, that's a very good question because what we've seen from this administration over the past two and a half years is often policies that get pushed out quickly and they're not explained to the people on the ground. The policy went into effect yesterday. We are not sure what's happening on the ground now where we're doing our best to find out, but in theory it should be being applied by asylum officers. Right now, a notably the, the head of the solemn officers union spoke out publicly and said, this is going to put people's lives in danger and they are very opposed to it. I think that makes sense. They've known, you know for decades that their job is to process asylum applications regardless of whether someone came through another country. What's critical for people to understand is that the administration's claim that you can simply apply for asylum and other countries is not factually accurate. Speaker 2: 04:15 Many countries that individuals will walk through, particularly in Central American Mexico, do not have a genuinely functioning asylum system, so it will not be possible for them to seek asylum. Moreover, it'd be very dangerous for them to wait around in those countries to even try to apply for asylum. So this notion that we'll just simply apply in any country you come to is really not factually accurate and we've put in evidence to show that. But ultimately that's a decision Congress has made is, look, we, we don't care whether you've come through another country, if you're in genuine danger, we are gonna look at your asylum application. It doesn't mean that everyone's going to get asylum, but congress has said, we will look at it regardless of what other country you've come through. And I think Khan wars knows full well that these other countries in Central America do not have functioning asylum systems and it's too dangerous. I think that's why Congress hasn't changed the laws. Congress didn't change the laws. The administration is simply trying to unilaterally rewrite them. Speaker 1: 05:15 Now, you mentioned a previous lawsuits like the Muslim ban, the ACU and partner organizations. One lawsuits did temporarily stop the band, but a modified version was approved by the u s supreme court. Do you think this change in asylum rules might go the same way? Speaker 2: 05:31 You know, I, I never would predict what will happen in court, but I think we are hopeful that this one will be enjoying like prior asylum. And I think w the prior assignment I was mentioning was not the Muslim ban. It was a ban on seeking asylum at the southern border. And that was last November. And that was for people who enter between ports of entry and that was struck down. We think this is more similar to that than the Muslim ban. So we're hopeful this will be struck down. Speaker 1: 05:59 Now KPBS and other news organizations say that in recent days, interviews by U s officials with those waiting in Tijuana have ground to a standstill even before this new policy went into effect. If you win an injunction against the new regulations, would you also request that asylum interviews be resumed at border crossings? Speaker 2: 06:18 Well, we will have to find out why those interviews are not taking place. And in one of the unfortunate things is this is just one of the many policies the ACLU was fighting in court. The administration has tried to block asylum in a variety of ways. So we will have to find out which particular policy is causing the those asylum interviews to be on hold. But we will try and make sure that people are getting their asylum process one way or the other. You know, the administration has been attacking Central American families now for two and a half years, taking their children away, trying to deny them fair or silent proceedings, holding them in horrendous conditions. So we're fighting on multiple fronts. We will try and get to the bottom of why those asylum interviews are not occurring and see which part of the many lawsuits we're involved in is responsible for that. Speaker 1: 07:12 I've been speaking with ACLU, attorney legal learnt and Lee, thank you. Speaker 2: 07:15 Thank you so much for having me. Speaker 1: 07:17 We reached out to the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department for comment on the ACL use lawsuit. They did not respond by air time.