Florida residents will likely have seen news reports about a caravan of migrants making their way to the United States from Honduras in the days and weeks leading up to the recent midterm elections. The migrants told reporters that they were fleeing desperate conditions in their home country and planned to seek asylum in America, but those plans were dealt a blow on Nov. 8 when the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced strict new rules for asylum seekers.
Individuals who enter the United States by crossing the Mexican border illegally were able to claim asylum under the old rules, but the new provisions will end this eligibility. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker says that the rule was announced to clear a backlog and not to deter future migrant caravans. He said in a joint statement that action had to be taken to reduce the burden on immigration officials inundated by meritless asylum claims. The new provisions were put into effect by a presidential proclamation issued on Nov. 9.
Trump administration officials are said to be expecting a legal challenge to the new rules. However, the president is believed to be confident that his revised asylum provisions will survive judicial scrutiny because the Supreme Court has generally deferred to the president's executive authority when faced with issues like this one. Legal experts say that Justice Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the nation's highest court makes a favorable outcome for the president even more likely.
Immigrants who entered the country illegally and plan to make asylum claims could be worried by the new rules, but attorneys with immigration law experience could put those fears to rest. The new asylum provisions are prospective, which means that they do not apply to individuals who are already inside the United States. Attorneys could also explain that the new provisions only apply to individuals who cross the Mexican border illegally.