SAN ANTONIO - Immigration attorney Gerardo Menchaca said clients already in the U.S. called his office early Monday morning, worried whether a new rule published in the Federal Register would affect their asylum claims.
Menchaca said he had to reassure them President Donald Trump’s most restrictive effort yet to limit existing asylum law did not affect them.
But for thousands of others at the border, or still on their way, Menchaca said, “A new rule will kick in tomorrow that says that people who apply for asylum in the United States will have to apply in another country first.”
He said that will be virtually impossible for Central Americans fleeing their home countries through Mexico.
Menchaca said for starters, most asylum-seekers do not have the money to hire attorneys in Mexico, and even if they do, they would have to wait to be denied asylum.
“If you apply in the United States without having been denied in another country, then you will be denied in the United States,” he said.
He said the rule “effectively ends asylum laws as we know them” unless the courts reject the latest measure like they already have with previous attempts to restrict asylum laws.
The American Civil Liberties Union has already issued a statement saying it will “sue swiftly” to stop the policy that begins Tuesday. The Mexican government has also rejected the move.
“Asylum is something that (we) consider very relevant and that we will always respect,” said Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico's foreign minister.
Migrants are already being returned to Mexico, where violence persists on the border, to await the outcome of their asylum claims or to file for asylum.
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