According to U.S. law, the correct way for a person to seek asylum is to arrive at an official port of entry at the border and tell officials they want to invoke their right to humanitarian protection. However, thousands of people are now being prevented from entering the U.S. because they followed those exact rules.
While Trump has consistently stated that there is a right way for immigrants to seek asylum, his administration recently issued a policy that requires migrants to seek asylum in a country they pass through on the way to the U.S. border. As a result, immigrants who pass through a third country, like Mexico, will have their request for asylum denied at official ports of entry.
Due to the policy change, thousands of asylum-seekers from Central America, Cuba, and Cameroon are stuck waiting in Mexican border towns. These people spent months with their names on unofficial waitlists trying to get into the U.S. legally after the Trump administration limited the number of asylum seekers allowed through the border each day.
Unfortunately, immigrants who chose to take the legal route to asylum are paying the price for simply following a set of rules that were suddenly changed at the whim of the President. Had those waiting in border towns crossed illegally, they would actually be in a better position. This is because their asylum claim would have been heard because they set foot on American soil. Instead, those who chose to wait out the process are subject to the new policy that has made most asylum seekers passing through Mexico ineligible.
Although the new regulation is being challenged in court, its effects are already long-reaching.