Jeff Sessions is pushing asylum officers to reject more migrants. Will they go along?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Trump administration’s goal has been clear: It wants as few people as possible coming to the United States without papers. And if they do come, it wants to deport them as quickly as possible.

That goal might finally be within their grasp.

The administration has treated immigrants who come without papers punitively — separating families for several weeks, seeking to keep families in immigration detention indefinitely, detaining asylum seekers without a chance at parole — in the hopes of deporting them efficiently and deterring other people from coming in.

Despite the crackdown, the administration still couldn’t eliminate the extra protections in place for asylum seekers, children, and families that the administration calls “loopholes” or “catch and release.”

But now it may finally have cracked the code. Lawyers representing asylum seekers report that very few of their clients are passing the very first step in the asylum process, the initial screening interviews that would allow them to stay in the US to apply for asylum. Those rejections consequently set them up to be deported without trial. “Everyone is getting denied,” Texas lawyer Carlos Garcia told the Houston Chronicle last week.

They’re still coming into the US, but without an interview approval, the US is able to send them back within days.

The question is whether the anecdotes reflect a meaningful and permanent shift in who’s allowed to enter the asylum process.