STATEMENT: Trump’s New Asylum Rule Is Illegal, Plain and Simple, Says CAP’s Tom Jawetz

Washington, D.C. — Last night, news broke that the Trump administration will release an interim final rule (IFR) denying asylum to anyone who traveled through another country, such as Mexico, before requesting protection in the United States. In response, Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:

The IFR posted this morning by the Trump administration is blatantly illegal and would effectively end asylum in the United States. It shows yet again that this lawless administration will do anything and everything to deny women, children, and families fleeing violence and persecution the right to apply for asylum in the United States.

Congress has explicitly provided only two circumstances in which time spent in a third country could justify barring a person from receiving asylum: if the United States has entered into a “safe third country” agreement with that country or if the person firmly resettled in that country. Neither provision applies here. First, the United States does not have a safe third country agreement with Mexico and its neighboring countries—and none of those countries credibly could be called “safe.” Second, merely passing through another country cannot and does not constitute firm resettlement in that country. As a result, today’s IFR violates the statutory scheme laid out by Congress and is illegal, plain and simple.  Section 208(b)(2)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act  —the purported authority—can no more save this provision from being blocked by the courts than it was able to prevent the courts’ rulings on the last asylum ban IFR.

With thousands of asylum-seekers exposed to the threat of extortion, rape, and murder every day because of the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, it is now on the courts to act swiftly to block this illegal act. A temporary restraining order in advance of a preliminary injunction should be issued today once a suit is filed.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Julia Cusick at or 202-495-3682.