There is going to be the most almighty catfight about this, the Trump Administration has decided to implement standard international law on asylum seekers:
The Trump administration says asylum-seeking immigrants from Central America must first apply for refugee status in the first country or countries they enter, rather than at the U.S. border. The new federal rule will likely face court challenges, opening a new front in the battle over U.S. immigration policies. The interim final rule will take effect immediately after it is published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, according to the departments of Justice and Homeland Security. The new policy applies specifically to the U.S.-Mexico border, saying that “an alien who enters or attempts to enter the United States across the southern border after failing to apply for protection in a third country outside the alien’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence through which the alien transited en route to the United States is ineligible for asylum.”
This is what international law on asylum actually is.
Sure, you’ve a right to asylum. We all agree that it is possible to be persecuted either by governments or other actors. You should be able to flee that too. So, you have a right – a right – to asylum away from those who would persecute you. There are various grounds as well – religion, sexuality, race and so on.
But, here’s the catch. Your right to asylum is only exercisable in the first place you come to that is safe from that persecution. You don’t get to pick and choose where you’d like to go. You’re fleeing for your life, right? So, the first place you’re safe is where you should stop and ask for that right.
Maybe it’s true that Guatemala isn’t safe for you. But Mexico is. Sure, it’s poor, you’ll not be as well off as if you can make it into the US. But that’s just how that human rights cookie crumbles. You have that right to aid and asylum in Mexico. And the US is going to insist that you exercise it. International law also says that if you don’t exercise that right to asylum in that first safe place then you lose that right.
How amusing that the Trump Administration is insisting upon international law, eh? And won’t opponents have to tie themselves in knots to argue against it?