The Trump administration on Wednesday revealed a new rule as a way to prevent criminals from obtaining asylum in the U.S. It would apply only to immigrants convicted of crimes after entering the country, meaning that those affected would be asylum-seekers in the U.S. who apply for asylum or whose asylum applications are winding through the legal system. Asylum Seekers convicted of drug possession or having a fake ID will not be eligible for asylum in the U.S. under the new rule proposed Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.
Current law already bars immigrants convicted of “particularly serious” crimes like murder, rape or drug trafficking from asylum protections in the U.S., but the proposed rule seeks to expand the group of crimes that deem an immigrant ineligible for asylum to include less serious convictions, including for certain misdemeanors. It outlines seven new categories of offenses that would render an immigrant ineligible for asylum. The proposed rule would “prevent certain categories of criminal aliens from obtaining asylum in the United States,” the administration said in a press release. “Upon finalization of the rulemaking process, the Departments will be able to devote more resources to the adjudication of asylum cases filed by non-criminal aliens.” But advocates and analysts say the rule is another restrictive proposal aimed at severely limiting the number of people who are granted protections.
The Trump administration has enacted several asylum-related policies in the last year, including a policy that effectively deems all non-Mexicans who appear at the U.S. southern border ineligible for protections. It has also begun to send some asylum-seekers presenting themselves there to Guatemala to seek asylum instead. Asylum-seekers, are often fleeing severe violence or political persecution, and can be granted protections in the U.S. if they prove they were or could be in danger persecuted in their home countries because of their race, religion, political views or other group memberships. A federal conviction for illegally entering the country and a conviction involving gang crimes – regardless of whether the crime was a misdemeanor or a felony – would be bars to asylum under the new rule, as would any conviction related to domestic assault or battery, stalking or child abuse, regardless of severity. Notably, the proposed rule would make ineligible for asylum immigrants engaged in “acts of battery and extreme cruelty in a domestic context” even if they were not convicted of a crime.