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Explainer: U.S. enacts sweeping new asylum bar following Supreme Court decision

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Explainer: U.S. enacts sweeping new asylum bar following Supreme Court decision

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court last week allowed a Trump administration rule to temporarily take effect that will radically reduce the number of migrants eligible to seek U.S. asylum. Judges and asylum officers are now being directed to implement it.

FILE PHOTO: Migrant families turn themselves to U.S. Border Patrol to seek asylum following an illegal crossing of the Rio Grande in Hidalgo, Texas, U.S., August 23, 2019. Picture taken August 23, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo

Immigration is central to U.S. President Donald Trump’s agenda and the government has said the new rule will reduce fraudulent asylum claims, while immigrant advocates say it risks returning vulnerable migrants to danger and even death.

The legal challenges against the rule are ongoing – in courts in California and Washington D.C. – but the long process to decide whether it is unlawful will likely continue past the 2020 elections, legal experts say.

In the interim, tens of thousands of asylum claims are likely to be denied. The following explains how that could happen.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A MIGRANT SEEKS ASYLUM AT THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDER? 

Some migrants head to a legal port of entry to ask border agents for asylum, but since only a few are let across each day, long wait lists have formed. Other migrants cross the border illegally and turn themselves in to the first agents they see to ask for refuge.

Under the typical process, asylum seekers are given an interview with a U.S. asylum officer to determine if they have a “credible fear” of persecution in their home country. If they pass that initial screening, they face an immigration judge who decides if their asylum claim has merit – a process that can take months or years because of huge court backlogs. Some migrants are detained during the wait, but many are released on bond or parole into the United States.

This year, however, the Trump administration adopted a new policy called the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” which skips the initial “credible fear” screening and sends some migrants to wait in Mexico during the U.S. court process. So far about 42,000 migrants have been returned to Mexico under the rapidly expanding policy that began on Jan. 29. That is only about 6% of the roughly 680,000 migrants who crossed the U.S. southern border from February through August this year.

For a story on the rollout of the Remain In Mexico policy click here: reut.rs/2ksFFYE

WHO IS AFFECTED BY THE NEW RULE?

The rule cuts off the possibility of U.S. asylum for almost all migrants arriving at the southern border if they have not sought refuge in a country they traveled through first. It will be applied by both asylum officers and immigration judges.

It will generally affect all asylum applications of migrants who entered the country on or after July 16, the day the rule was published in the Federal Register, according to guidance sent to immigration judges by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Department of Justice agency that runs the immigration courts.

Most migrants arriving at the border are from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, but the rule will also hit significant numbers of Cubans, Venezuelans, Indians and Africans who make their way through many countries before arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

CAN MIGRANTS AT THE SOUTHERN BORDER STILL SEEK PROTECTION IN THE UNITED STATES?

The new rule specifically allows migrants to seek two other kinds of protection in the United States. One is under the Convention Against Torture and the other is known as withholding of removal. However, the applicant has to clear a higher bar to be eligible for that type of relief, and there are fewer benefits.

Migrants can also seek refuge in Mexico or countries farther south like Guatemala but the asylum agencies there are small and already overwhelmed with claims.

For a story on Mexico’s asylum agency click here: reut.rs/2lTYnZl

FILE PHOTO: The exterior of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., is seen on September 16, 2019. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger/File Photo

DOES THE RULE GO INTO EFFECT IMMEDIATELY?

Kenneth Cuccinelli, the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that employs asylum officers, told CBS News on Sunday that the immigration agencies and the Department of Justice were “ramping this up as quickly as we can logistically … This will be measured in days not weeks.” The Department of Justice oversees the immigration courts.

The rule had already been implemented in Texas and Arizona starting mid-August after an appellate court narrowed an earlier nationwide block. Immigration attorneys representing migrants in detention at a facility in Dilley, Texas, saw a jump in the number of initial screening denials of asylum applicants during that time.

Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware, and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco; Editing by Mica Rosenberg and Matthew Lewis

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in ‘SMEAR story’

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in 'SMEAR story'

President Trump blasted The New York Times over its supposed bombshell report on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling on “everybody” involved in the “smear” to resign.

“I call for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story, and while you’re at it, the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is just as phony!” Trump tweeted Monday evening.

“They’ve taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation… She can never recover, and will never return to Greatness, under current Management. The Times is DEAD, long live The New York Times!”

NEW YORK TIMES CRITICIZED FROM BOTH SIDES OVER NOW-REVISED KAVANAUGH ALLEGATIONS

Late Sunday, The New York Times walked back an explosive report about a resurfaced allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh from his college days. The piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, alleged there was corroboration of an incident in which Kavanaugh, as a college student at Yale, exposed himself to a female classmate at a party.

However, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway — who reviewed an advance copy of the book – flagged an omission and the paper eventually revised the controversial story after being lampooned on social media over the gaffe.

The update included the significant detail that several friends of the alleged victim said she did not recall the purported sexual assault. The newspaper also stated for the first time that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, and has made no other comment about the episode.

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Trump was asked about whether anyone from The Times should be “fired” over the controversy. He called it a “fair” question but didn’t directly give an answer.

“I think The New York Times made another terrible mistake,” Trump said. “It’s a shame that a thing like that could happen… They used to have a thing called fact-checking. They don’t have fact-checking anymore.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will hold one of his signature rallies on Monday night in New Mexico, a longtime Democratic stronghold his campaign has added to the list of states it hopes to win in the November 2020 election.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The last time New Mexico supported a Republican in a presidential race was 2004. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 8 percentage points three years ago.

Trump’s campaign sees an opening in the state with Latinos, who it believes will swing his way despite tough immigration policies, including a crackdown on migrants from Central America and a push to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Democrats have criticized those efforts. But a Trump campaign aide said the Republican president could win over Latinos who came to the United States legally and believe others should, too.

“Big crowd expected in New Mexico tonight, where we will WIN. Your Border Wall is getting stronger each and every day — see you in a few hours!” Trump tweeted ahead of his trip.

The campaign also views Trump’s support for the fossil fuel industry as a plus in the state, which is rich in oil and natural gas, said the campaign aide, who declined to be named. Trump is likely to discuss energy on Monday night.

Trump won the White House in 2016 with electoral votes from traditional Republican-leaning states and some surprise Democratic-leaning ones.

The Trump campaign says it wants New Mexico’s five electoral votes to augment the 306 electoral votes the president received in his first election, not create a separate path for victory. A candidate must get 270 electoral votes nationally to win.

Democrats, who did well in New Mexico during the 2018 mid-term elections, are skeptical.

“Last cycle, Democrats crushed Republicans in New Mexico because voters are fed up with President Trump’s toxic healthcare agenda and broken promises,” said David Bergstein, a communications director for the Democratic National Committee focused on battleground states.

“We take nothing for granted, but this GOP strategy looks like they’re concerned about a realistic pathway to 270 electoral votes,” he added.

Trump won electoral-vote-rich swing states such as Ohio and Florida in 2016, while also picking up Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from Democrats.

The campaign says it is eyeing more pickups in 2020, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Nevada.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown

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California adds Iowa to ‘travel ban’ over refusal to fund gender transitions

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California adds Iowa to 'travel ban' over refusal to fund gender transitions

California announced Monday that it has added Iowa to the list of states on its ever-expanding “travel ban” list because of that state’s new prohibition against funding gender-transition surgeries under Medicaid.

The announcement by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra means that as of Oct. 4, California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.

Becerra’s authority came from a 2016 California law signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that bars state-funded travel to other states that undercut LGBT rights. The list already included Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

WATCH: LIBERAL POLICIES BLAMED FOR WORSENING CALIFORNIA’S HOMELESSNESS CRISIS

Conservatives have called the law ineffective, inconveniencing, possibly unconstitutional and hypocritical. The state’s sports teams have turned to private funding to get around the restrictions, according to The Los Angeles Times.

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care,” Becerra said in a statement. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.”

The brouhaha began after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that taxpayers could be forced to pay for gender reassignment surgery. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law effectively overriding that ruling two months later.

At the federal level, the Trump administration has disputed the idea that sex-based discrimination prohibitions under law include protections for gender identity. The Health and Human Services Department, in May, angered progressive advocates with rules that both allowed doctors not to perform certain operations and stated that “gender identity” was not protected under sex discrimination law in health care.

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Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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