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Cesar, 35, an asylum seeker from Nicaragua waits with his wife, Carolina, 25, (Right) and his eight-year-old son Donovan as a U.S. Customs and Border agent looks on on April 6, 2020 at the Paso del Norte International Bridge in Ciudad Juaarez in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.

Cesar, 35, an asylum seeker from Nicaragua waits with his wife, Carolina, 25, (Right) and his eight-year-old son Donovan as a U.S. Customs and Border agent looks on on April 6, 2020 at the Paso del Norte International Bridge in Ciudad Juaarez in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. (Photo: Paul Ratje/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images)

New 'Appalling' Rejection of Asylum-Seekers Shows Trump Admin Using Covid-19 to Do What It 'Always Wanted'

"This is cruel and unnecessary."

Andrea Germanos

Under the cover of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump has escalated his administration's immigration crackdown by harnessing a federal law allowing Border Patrol agents to expel migrants seeking asylum without process for their claims, new reporting reveals.

"This is cruel and unnecessary. We cannot allow the administration to use the COVID-19 pandemic to demolish our tradition of asylum—any national response must be based in science, not racism and xenophobia," the ACLU wrote on Twitter of the move last Friday.

The new rule took effect March 20, as the Associated Press and ProPublica—which first reported on the move—detailed

The regulation takes advantage of provisions of the Public Health Service Act empowering the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bar people who could pose "a serious danger" by bringing in a communicable disease entry to the U.S.

The U.S. has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world—over 432,000 as of this writing.

The AP framed the new regulation as the government's "most aggressive border crackdowns ever" that rejects "decades-old national and international laws." ProPublica reported that the regulation gives Border Patrol "unchallengeable authority over migrants seeking asylum."

The Trump administration has given "little detail on the rule," which allows for Border agents to "take migrants to the nearest border crossing in specially designated vehicles and avoid stations," AP added.

An estimated 7,000 migrants have already been expelled to Mexico in the last two weeks.

The asylum ban extends to children traveling with relatives other than their parents or guardians, a departure from previous policy which had directed such children into the asylum process.

A Border Patrol agent isn't required to ask if a migrant will face torture if returned, and while a migrant may put forth "spontaneously" that information, it's still no guarantee of entry. From ProPublica:

the guidance provided to Border Patrol agents makes clear that asylum-seekers are being turned away unless they can persuade both a Border Patrol agent—as well as a higher-ranking Border Patrol official—that they will be tortured if sent home. There is no exception for those who seek protection on the basis of their identities, such as race or religion.


Under the Refugee Convention, which the U.S. signed onto in 1968, countries are barred from sending someone back to a country in which they could be persecuted based on their identity (specifically, their race, nationality, religion, political opinion or membership in a "particular social group").

Responding to the reporting, the National Center for Transgender Equality said, "This is appalling news for migrants."

"Trans people are more likely to seek asylum and face high levels of violence ad persecution around the world. They deserve the protections given to them under U.S. law. This must be addressed!" the group wrote.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel for the American Immigration Council, suggested the Trump White House is simply fulfilling a long-standing goal.

"The administration is able to do what they always wanted to do," he told AP. "I don't see this slowing down."

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Flint Residents 'Disgusted' After Court Throws Out Indictments of Top Officials

"It has become increasingly clear that the judicial system is not a viable option for a poor majority Black community facing injustice," said Flint Rising.

Jessica Corbett ·

Sanders, Fetterman Urge Buttigieg to Fine Airlines Over Flight Cancellations

"The American people are sick of airlines ripping them off, canceling flights at the last minute, and delaying flights for hours on end," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·

In Blow to Voting Rights, SCOTUS Saves Louisiana's Racially Rigged Electoral Map

"Black Louisianans deserve fair representation. The fight for racial justice and equality is far from over," vowed one civil rights group.

Brett Wilkins ·

Watching US With Horror, European Groups Push Leaders to Strengthen Abortion Rights

"This is an important moment for leaders across Europe who are committed to reproductive rights to lead by example and galvanize action in their own countries," said one campaigner.

Jake Johnson ·

Women Face Chaos, Torment as Abortion Clinics Shutter Across US

Clinic workers are attempting to get patients appointments out-of-state while women stockpile emergency contraception, fearing overcrowded clinics even in states that protect reproductive rights.

Julia Conley ·

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