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DOJ and DHS announce new asylum rules

New outlets in California and around the country have devoted a significant amount of coverage in recent weeks to a caravan of migrants that is currently making its way to the United States from Honduras. Members of the caravan have told reporters that they hope to escape desperate poverty and pervasive violence in their home country by claiming asylum once they reach America, but those plans may need to be put on hold in light of new immigration rules announced on Nov. 8 and put into place by a White House proclamation issued by President Trump on Nov. 9.

The new rules will no longer allow immigrants who cross the Mexican border illegally to petition for asylum. In a press statement released jointly by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said that the new rules were needed to take pressure off immigration officials and judges who are struggling to cope with thousands of allegedly meritless asylum claims.

Previous efforts made by the Trump administration to revise the nation's immigration laws have been challenged in the courts, and White House officials are said to be expecting the new asylum rules to face similar opposition. However, the Supreme Court has generally sided with the president when the scope of executive privilege has been questioned, and some observers say that the recent confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the court makes a challenge even less likely to succeed.

Attorneys with experience in this area could assure undocumented immigrants that the new asylum rules are prospective and do not apply to individuals already in the United States. Attorneys could also help asylum seekers to gather the evidence that will be needed to convince immigration judges that their fears of persecution should they return to their home countries are genuine and credible.

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