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A federal judge ruled that asylum seekers at the U.S. border before mid-July are not subject to the asylum limits that were implemented after.

The Trump administration issued a rule in mid-July that required asylum seekers who traveled through other countries on the way to the U.S. border to first seek asylum in those countries. In practice, this meant that those arriving in Mexico would need to seek asylum in Mexico first. Asylum seekers who had already presented at the U.S. border but were sent back to Mexico to wait were being processed under the new rule and denied the ability to apply for asylum. A federal judge in California ruled that the rule does not apply to asylum seekers who arrived at the U.S. border prior to the rule’s existence. If not for the “metering” policy the U.S. employs, those asylum seekers would have arrived in the U.S. before the rule went into effect.

Under new asylum rules, asylum seekers can be sent to unfamiliar countries even if presenting at the U.S. border.

Up until now, the U.S. has been crafting “safe third country”-like agreements with countries like Guatemala, requiring asylum seekers to apply for asylum in those countries if they pass through them on the way to the U.S.  The Trump administration published a rule in the Federal Register on November 19 that makes it possible for the U.S. to send asylum seekers to other countries, even if the asylum seeker never passed through those countries. This step is one more that will decrease the amount of asylum seekers coming to the U.S. Under the new rule, asylum seekers being sent to another country will have to prove that “more likely than not,” they will be persecuted in that country- a high bar to pass. The fast-tracked rule was published and made effective on November 19, and is open for comment until December 19.

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