Politics, Moderate



Trump can't stop America from offering a safe harbor to huddled masses

Esther J. Cepeda on

CHICAGO -- It won't work.

President Trump can ask U.S.-born citizens to go "back home," and he can insult immigrants who have lived here productively for years in the hopes that they, too, will disappear from his sight. He can send out his militarized immigration force to round up people who look like they could be deported.

But he cannot will our country to stop taking in the world's tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, because that is America's whole thing.

To put it in business terms that an executive might understand: It's our brand promise.

It's also the law.

"It violates the statutory right of any alien to seek protection in the United States," said Keren Zwick, a litigator with the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center during a July 15 telephone press briefing. "We can only make good on the humanitarian purpose of asylum if migrants actually have access to it."


Anyone who likes to say that we are a nation of laws should, surely, agree that Trump's latest base-rallying immigration announcement is illegal. The so-called Third-Country Asylum Rule, which targets refugees who travel through Mexico before reaching the U.S., prohibiting them from applying for asylum, is basically a mechanism to target refugees from Latin America and relegate them to fending for themselves in Mexico.

The interim rule is going into effect "immediately" according to the administration, but will be fought in court to be prohibited from truly going into practice.

"A lawsuit is imminent," said Zwick. "We're talking days, not weeks."

And it's likely to succeed. You see, the Trump administration already tried and lost its attempt at narrowing asylum claims by saying that Mexico is a safe "third country."


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