The rule would require migrants who travel through other countries on their way to the United States to seek asylum in one of those countries first. Many migrants try to cross these areas, where they fall victim to disorientation, dehydration and where the risk of death is high. The majority of migrants are from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
Only about 25 percent of current illegal border crossers are claiming credible fear of return to their home country, according to Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), on July 12. But there's an exception for those who have come through a country considered "safe". For example, migrants from Honduras or El Salvador who walk north to the U.S. border and pass through Guatemala and Mexico would be ineligible to apply for asylum in the United States, per the Wall Street Journal.
The Trump administration is moving to end asylum protections for most Central American migrants.
The rule from the departments of Justice and Homeland Security would prohibit migrants who have resided or "transited en route" in a third country from seeking asylum in the United States, therefore barring migrants traveling through Mexico from being able to claim asylum and as a result, drastically limit who's eligible for asylum. If they can demonstrate that they have been "victims of a severe form of trafficking", or if they have only traveled through a country or countries that aren't signatories to specific global treaties meant to protect refugees and asylum seekers, then they can apply as USA asylum-seekers.
However, less than 20 percent are granted asylum relief by an immigration judge. But, for example, while Australia, France and Brazil have signed those treaties, so have Afghanistan and Libya, places the US does not consider safe.
UNHCR called last month on the governments of countries in the Americas to meet urgently to develop and implement immediately a coordinated regional response to the growing numbers of people leaving Central America.
Guatemalan officials were expected in Washington D.C., on Monday to discuss a safe third country agreement with the U.S. According to Customs and Border Protection data, more than 100 countries of origin were represented by people crossing the southwest border in 2018, including migrants from Brazil, India, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bangladesh.
Under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, there is no obligation on refugees to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach.
Almost all of those efforts have been blocked by courts. Border facilities have been dangerously cramped and crowded well beyond capacity.
Border Patrol agents who interview migrants say the Central Americans, who make up the bulk of the migration border crisis, are generally coming for economic or family migration reasons, not persecution or violence. Its main argument is that the number of families and children arriving on the USA border has created too much of a strain on the departments who issued the new ruling and, in response, they are simply going to impose a blanket denial of asylum.
The U.S. has long had an agreement with Canada dealing with asylum seekers.
There was no indication that there had been any massive sweeps, however, and officials at the Department of Homeland Security told some in the media that merely a "handful" of immigrants had been detained. What would also help is letting employers open recruitment offices in these countries where they would be responsible for doing background checks on potential hires before petitioning for their visas.
These requests - increasingly made by families claiming to flee endemic violence and poverty in their countries - allow the applicants to remain in the United States and to move around freely while their cases are adjudicated, which can take two years.