This bill — the Asylum at Designated Arrival Ports and Terminals (ADAPT) Act of 2018 — would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to require that requests for asylum in the U.S. can only be made at designated ports of arrival immediately upon arrival in the country.
What is House Bill H.R. 7139?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 7139
In-Depth: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) introduced this bill to require that asylum requests only be made at designated ports of arrival:
“America is facing an invasion at our southern border that promises to be followed by more massive caravans. Our asylum system was never meant to add hundreds of thousands more each year to over one million lawful visas that the United States provides. There are apparently groups who are funding thousands of people at a time to invade the United States without lawful right to do so. No other country in the entire world or in history is as generous with access to a country as the United States. Yet, asylum abuse has become a way to flaunt U.S. law and overwhelm our immigration system and bring down the greatest, most successful effort in self-government the world has ever known. This has to end now before it destroys the most desirable country to enter.
My bill, the Asylum at Designated Arrival Ports and Terminals, or ADAPT Act, complements President Trump’s recent proclamation by requiring all asylum seekers to apply at a designated port of arrival immediately upon entry. By requiring asylum applications to be made (1) immediately, and (2) only at ports of arrival, illegal border crossers will no longer be able to game the system upon being caught. The combination of a border wall where it is needed, President Trump’s proclamation, newly released DHS / DOJ rules, and this bill will finally allow us to virtually end the unsustainable illegal entries into our country.”
The Trump administration is currently working on finalizing a plan under which migrants seeking asylum must present themselves at ports of entry. This follows a presidential proclamation to the same effect on November 9, 2019, in which President Trump suspended immigrants’ entry into the U.S. across the U.S.-Mexico border and declared that asylum seekers must present themselves at ports of entry. President Trump says of this plan:
“Under this plan, the illegal aliens will no longer get a free pass into our country by lodging meritless claims in seeking asylum. Instead, migrants seeking asylum will have to present themselves lawfully at a port of entry, so they are going to have to lawfully present themselves at a port of entry.”
President Trump claims that under the current system, migrants use “fraudulent or meritless” claims to gain entry into the U.S. by crossing the border illegally and presenting themselves to Border Patrol agents, then asking for asylum using “well-coached language” from lawyers. He claims:
“They don’t believe in the phrase [asylum], but they are given a little legal statement to read, and they read it, and now all of a sudden they’re supposed to qualify, but that’s not the reason they are here.”
President Trump has also expressed hostility toward members of the migrant caravan currently seeking asylum in the U.S., saying they’re “not legitimate asylum seekers,” and adding that “asylum is not a program for those living in poverty. There are billions of people in the world living at the poverty level. The United States cannot possibly absorb them all.”
Civil rights groups have spoken out against attempts to limit asylum seekers’ entry points to ports of entry, arguing that President Trump’s proclamation contradicts federal statute under the INA. However, if this bill passes, the INA would fall in line with President Trump’s new asylum process. This would neutralize civil rights groups’ legal basis for contesting President Trump’s proclamation.
The Washington Post’s editorial board opposes President Trump’s plan to reduce asylum seekers’ options for applying for asylum in the U.S. In fact, it suggests that the opposite — allowing would-be asylees to apply for asylum while in their home countries — is a better solution:
“A rational policy would double down on U.S. aid programs [to Central America], with a focus on crime-fighting and security, while allowing would-be migrants to apply and be screened for asylum in their home countries. That could avoid the spectacle of north-bound caravans, such as the one making its way through Mexico right now — and of a president for whom the misery of migrants is just a convenient wedge issue.”
Of Note: Currently, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, immigrants within the U.S. who tell immigration officials they’re afraid to return to their home countries have the right to request asylum and be immediately processed.
The Trump administration’s response to the migrant caravan from Central America that’s now reached the U.S. border has been a political flashpoint, with the president calling the situation a “national emergency” and vowing economic vengeance in the form of reduced aid to the would-be asylees’ home countries.
Those fleeing Central America are attempting to escape poverty, violence, and deteriorating government stability in the “Northern Triangle” of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In Honduras, two-thirds of the population lives in poverty, and 20 percent of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day. Fewer than one in ten violent crimes are solved in Honduras, in part because many police officers also moonlight as enforcers for the organized crime syndicates that have made Honduras one of the world’s most dangerous countries. Finally, there’s been a rash of recent droughts that threaten millions’ food security.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / AndreyPopov)
Asylum at Designated Arrival Ports and Terminals Act 2018
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not votedIntroducedNovember 16th, 2018