Dec. 10 (UPI) — The Trump administration on Thursday finalized sweeping amendments to immigration rules that critics fear will “devastate” the country’s asylum system.
The 419-page document set to be published on Friday by the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice greatly tightens standards by which immigration judges are allowed to grant asylum.
Immigration advocacy group American Immigration Council said Thursday the regulation “guts the U.S. asylum system by making it nearly impossible for most applicants to successfully claim humanitarian protection in the United States.”
Among the slew of changes include ordering judges to deny asylum to those who have spent at least 14 days in any country that permits refugee applications, traveled through more than one country prior to arriving in the United States, been in the United States for more than a year before filing an application and failing to pay taxes on time.
The amended rule also orders judges to consider unlawful entrance into the United States as a “significant adverse factor” for anyone above the age of 18.
Concerning those seeking asylum by claiming their lives are under threat, the rule amends the definition of “persecution” to mean “severe harm of an immediate and menacing nature made by an identified entity or person.”
The document also states it is raising the standard of proof for those seeking humanitarian assistance claiming “credible fear of persecution” and “credible fear of torture.”
“For generations, the United States has been a beacon of hope for those in need of protection. This new rule breaks that tradition,” Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council, said in a statement. “By choosing to move forward with this regulation, the administration is making clear that deterrence through cruelty is the point until the bitter end.”
Jennifer Minear, the president of American Immigration Lawyers Association, chastised the administration for failing to address border security and asylum processing humanely.
“This rule eviscerates a needed lifeline to those fleeing danger and reiterates a common false narrative promoted by the Trump administration: that border security can only be attained through the gutting of the asylum,” she said.
The amended rule was first published for comment in June and is set to go into effect Jan. 11, days before the Biden administration is to take over leadership of the country.
Immigration has been a constant issue for President Donald Trump who campaigned in 2016 on cracking down on undocumented immigrants entering the United States.
In February of last year, Trump declared a National Emergency in order to shift billions of dollars to build physical barriers along the souther border.
The Justice Department argued in a statement Thursday that the changes “streamline and enhance procedures” that will enable to federal government “to more effectively separate baseless claims from meritorious ones.”
“This will better ensure groundless claims do not delay or divert resources from deserving claims, and in particular, will better ensure the security of our nation’s borders by facilitating the efficient review of claims in a manner consistent with the law and the integrity of our immigration system,” it said.