The caravan of migrants that has been making its way from Honduras to the U.S. for some months now has finally reached the Mexico-U.S. border. The migrants are fleeing violence and persecution in their native land, and they are legally seeking asylum in the U.S.
However, since taking office nearly two years ago, the Trump administration has taken seemingly constant steps to thwart migrant efforts. He has villainized the caravan in the media—in an effort to increase anti-immigrant sentiment. In addition, he is trying to make the asylum application process longer and more cumbersome—to discourage desperate refugees from applying in the first place.
The last week saw two important changes in policy affecting asylum seekers: one positive and one negative.
Court halts Trump’s attempts to limit asylum claims
Last month, President Trump attempted to pass a policy stating that refugees are only eligible for asylum if they enter the country legally or apply at a port of entry—not at any other border crossing. This move puts increased burden on already vulnerable migrants.
Last week, the Supreme Court upheld a U.S. district court ruling that such a policy is illegal and will not be enforced. The Court reinforced that the president of the United States does not have the power to alter immigration law.
While this ruling can be considered a victory for asylum seekers and immigration advocates, a second announcement last week represents a serious blow to the migrant caravan.
Trumpprevents asylum applicants from entering U.S.
The Department of Homeland Security announced a major policy change, effective immediately, which states that all asylum seekers attempting to enter the U.S. at the Mexican border will be forced to wait in Mexico until their asylum cases are processed—which means that such migrants could be left in limbo in Mexico for years.
Consequently, migrants from the caravan are overflowing emergency shelters in Mexico on the border to the U.S. This situation is causing severe unrest among Mexicans in the area—and uncertainty for thousands of migrants.
The recent changes in asylum-related policy are discouraging. However, the courts are making steady efforts to hold the administration in check—and prevent policy changes that go against the protections defined in the law.
We will continue to post updates on this situation as it unfolds.