Federal Agencies Now On Same Page On So-Called Asylum Ban

Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 5:25pm
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection
A U.S. Border Patrol Agent watches as U.S. soldiers install concertina wire at the Morley Gate port of entry in Nogales, Ariz. on Nov. 7, 2018.

Federal officials had contradicted each other last week on whether the so-called asylum ban applies to children traveling without a parent or guardian, but they’re now on the same page.

The new rule and presidential proclamation block people from seeking asylum if they enter the country illegally.

“Our clients are not really well-versed in the nuances of entering at a port of entry versus entering through the desert,” said Laura Belous, attorney with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. “Our clients are coming looking for safety, and that’s their first priority.”

The Justice Department and U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services gave conflicting statements on whether the asylum rule also applies to unaccompanied children. Now both agencies say kids traveling alone can become ineligible for asylum.

“(Unaccompanied children) retain the special benefits that they are given under our laws even if they become ineligible for asylum by violating a presidential proclamation,” Steven Stafford, a Justice Department spokesman, said in an emailed statement. “Nothing has changed procedurally for (unaccompanied children).”

Immigrant rights groups have sued in federal court to stop the the so-called asylum ban. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday.

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