The Justice Department’s oversight of the special counsel Russia probe has been the focus of Matthew Whitaker’s days-old tenure as acting attorney general, but already his name is attached to a new rule that prevents people who enter the country illegally from claiming asylum.
The new interim final rule from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security requires anyone who enters illegally to be returned to their country of origin on an expedited basis, reports the Conservative Tribune.
“Consistent with our immigration laws, the President has the broad authority to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens into the United States if he determines it to be in the national interest to do so,” explained Whitaker and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a joint statement.
“Today’s rule applies this important principle to aliens who violate such a suspension or restriction regarding the southern border imposed by the President by invoking an express authority provided by Congress to restrict eligibility for asylum.”
Meanwhile, the caravan of an estimated 6,000 asylum seekers from Central America spent the night in Mexico City before continuing north to Queretaro, Mexico, on Friday.
Whitaker and Nielsen said the country’s immigration system “is overwhelmed with too many meritless asylum claims from aliens who place a tremendous burden on our resources, preventing us from being able to expeditiously grant asylum to those who truly deserve it.”
“Today, we are using the authority granted to us by Congress to bar aliens who violate a Presidential suspension of entry or other restriction from asylum eligibility,” they said.
That means that anyone wishing to apply for political asylum must present himself at a port of entry.
The New York Times reported lawyers for immigration advocacy groups contend the rule violates a fundamental principle of federal asylum, to judge each person’s claim on its own merits.
The lawyers contend federal and international law requires the opportunity to claim asylum regardless of whether the entry is legal or illegal.
Trump administration officials, the Times said, argue the president is responding to statistics showing most asylum seekers are eventually denied but many skip their court hearings and remain in the country illegally.