On July 16, 2019, effective immediately, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice issued a joint interim final rule barring eligibility for asylum, with some exceptions, for those entering or attempting to enter the United States via the southern border who did not apply for protection in at least one third country outside the person’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence through which they transited en route to the United States. The rule would also require asylum officers and immigration judges to apply this new bar on asylum eligibility when administering the credible-fear screening process applicable to stowaways and aliens subject to expedited removal under section 235(b)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The new bar established by this regulation does not modify withholding or deferral of removal proceedings.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and others immediately filed suit in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, California, to stop the asylum ban. They argued that under U.S. law, the government cannot disqualify asylum applicants solely on the basis of transiting through a third country. The complaint states that the rule “is a part of an unlawful effort to significantly undermine, if not virtually repeal, the U.S. asylum system at the southern border.”
Comments on the interim final rule are due by August 15, 2019, to be submitted by one of the methods listed in the rule.