President Trump has taken major steps to shrink the asylum system and discourage people from applying, based on a belief that the U.S. is taking in too many foreigners. The moves are part of a larger plan to reshape the U.S. reputation as a safe haven.
Recent changes in the U.S. asylum system mean that as a place of refuge, America is largely closed for business, the New York Times reports. While migrants fleeing communist governments in Central America during the Cold War were welcomed in the 1980s, those arriving now do not fit into a larger U.S. geopolitical agenda. Their afflictions — gang violence, domestic brutality and poverty — are neither U.S. national security priorities nor anything that was originally intended to be covered under the laws of asylum. President Trump has taken major steps to shrink the asylum system and discourage people from applying, based on a belief that the U.S. is taking in too many foreigners. The moves are part of a larger plan developing in Washington to reshape the U.S. reputation as a safe haven.
The most extreme proposal would upend the system by eliminating the use of offices along the border, known as “ports of entry,” as asylum processing centers. Introduced this spring by leadership of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the plan would allow hopeful refugees to apply for protection only from abroad, stranding them for much longer in the conditions they hope to escape. The administration has announced new guidance for asylum officers, who are the first to evaluate claims along the border, instructing them to scrutinize asylum applications according to stricter standards, and to weigh the applicants’ claims of fear against whether they have previously entered the U.S. illegally. “Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems — even all serious problems — that people face every day all over the world,” says Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has eliminated domestic and gang violence as grounds for asylum.