By Thomas Mitchell
Nevada?s Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford joined with other attorneys general this past week in filing a friend of the court brief in a case challenging another Trump administration rule attempting to curb the flood of asylum seekers.
The rule would deny asylum to those who passed through a safe country en route to the U.S., but did not apply for asylum in that country and get turned down. The lawsuit challenging the rule was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union ? styled East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Barr ? is currently pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California.
In a press release announcing the filing of the brief, Ford was quoted as saying, ?Facing violence or persecution, asylum seekers look to us for help and safety. As Attorney General, my ultimate goal is to welcome and protect Nevadans, and I will fight every attempt by the Trump Administration to turn its back on those in need of dire assistance.?
The press release said the rule subjects asylum seekers to trauma and perils in dangerous countries, such as Mexico and Guatemala. Sounds like the sort of stereotyping rhetoric the left is always accusing Trump of spouting.
The attorneys general of California and Massachusetts, who are taking the lead in the brief filing, issued an almost identically worded press release.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is quoted as saying, ?Again and again, the Trump Administration proffers sloppy reasoning at best for decisions that have lasting consequences on the lives of real people. Countless people are being put at risk by a rule that runs afoul of one of our core principles ? welcoming homeless refugees to our shores. This rule is unreasonable and disturbingly callous. We?re going to do everything we can to stand up for the rights of those seeking refuge from persecution and violence.?
Both press releases claim the rule is particularly injurious to unaccompanied children, LGBTQ applicants, and women, for whom applying for asylum in a third country is said to be perilous. ?For example, two-thirds of LGBTQ Central American asylum-seekers reportedly suffered sexual violence while transiting through Mexico and, in Guatemala, children are frequently targets of recruitment by criminal gangs,? both releases say. ?In addition, the rule will cause state agencies and non-profits to divert resources to address the added trauma asylum-seekers will suffer because of precarious conditions in third countries and will force states to lose out on the economic contributions of those who might otherwise have been welcomed to the country.?
Yes, the brief claims the rule will deprive states of the economic benefits of immigrants denied asylum.
Oddly, just a few weeks ago Ford joined in another court filing that challenged a Trump administration rule that would have denied legal immigration status and work cards to non-naturalized immigrants who have come to rely on government welfare ? known as the public charge rule.
At the time, Ford wailed, ?I pledged to protect Nevada?s families, and I will continue to protect our families from the Trump Administration?s numerous attacks. This proposed change is not only mean-spirited, it essentially makes legal immigrants choose between maintaining their legal status and receiving assistance to meet basic needs, like food, health care and housing. It?s unconscionable.?
Asylum seekers are required to prove persecution on one of five grounds ? race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group or political opinion. That covers a lot of ground.
In June, then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told a congressional hearing that a recently conducted study of 7,000 family units revealed that 90 percent failed to appear for immigration hearings and simply vanished into the countryside rather than face the judicial process. In 2018, fully 65 percent of asylum cases that were heard were denied.
Despite this, Nevada?s senior U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, signed onto a letter with other senators opposing a Trump administration immigration rule requiring asylum seekers at the southern border to remain in Mexico pending hearings.
As further witness to the lack of validity of asylum requests, this past week Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection in the El Paso area identified 238 fraudulent families, as well as 50 adults falsely claiming to be minors. More than 350 people are being prosecuted.
Legal immigration should be afforded only to those who can prove their cases and then can support themselves and their families once allowed in. Open borders will not work for current Nevada taxpayers and job seekers.
Thomas Mitchell is a longtime Nevada newspaper columnist. You may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at http://4thst8.wordpress.com/