On December 18, 2019, the Trump administration proposed a regulation which includes new reasons to bar migrants from claiming asylum in the United States. The proposal will go through a public comment period before it is finalized. The new regulation would add further restrictions for migrants in addition to current policies enacted by the administration in recent years.
The proposed regulation is being described by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security as a method to provide more resources to the asylum cases filled by non-criminal aliens.
Current laws prohibit migrants from obtaining asylum if they have committed serious crimes such as murder, rape, and drug trafficking. The new rules add some felonies and some less serious misdemeanors to the list of crimes that would disqualify asylum seekers. The additional disqualifying crimes include:
- a conviction for any felony under federal or state law
- alien smuggling or harboring
- illegal reentry to the United States
- a conviction for any law involving criminal street gang activity
- driving under the influence of an intoxicant
- a conviction for any law regarding domestic violence
- a finding that a person has engaged in domestic violence, even without a conviction
- false identification
- unlawful receipt of public benefits
- possession of a controlled substance or paraphernalia
While some of the additional disqualifying crimes are serious crimes, others are much less serious, such as using a false identification and driving under the influence. Some criminal acts would not even require a conviction in order to be barred from asylum, such as being found by an adjudicator of engaging in domestic violence.
In an immigration system that is already challenging, a small lapse of judgement could have life altering complications for asylum seekers attempting to enter the United States lawfully.