Trump’s Now Throwing Around Terms Like “National Emergency” When Talking About Caravan Of Central American Migrants. Why Is That Significant?
Because It Suggests The President Is At Least Considering Invoking Presidential Powers, Which In Effect Could Treat The Group Of Migrants Almost As An Army Of Foreign Invaders
This is a follow-up to our story just yesterday “Trump Tips His Hand On How He’ll Whip Up Frenzy Leading To The Midterms”. And since then, the President has already announced he’s readying as many as 1,000 troops to be deployed at the Southern Border.
But the people in the caravan won’t be making a mad dash for it, if and when they reach that border. (They’re now still in Mexico, about 1,000 miles away). They’ll be presenting themselves to border agents and petitioning for asylum on the grounds that their lives are threatened where they’re coming from.
And this is where it gets complicated. U.S. asylum law most simply states:
“Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum….”
It then goes on to define who qualifies for asylum:
“The applicant must establish that race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.”
In other words, if someone’s persecuted or in trouble right now, and can make it to this country, U.S. law allows them to apply for asylum. Especially if they are in mortal peril. Especially if they are from the same hemisphere.
So unless Trump plans on shooting people in cold blood, or invading Mexico and literally preventing the caravan participants from even reaching the U.S. border, a display of military might would really be just for show.
Unless…the President declares a national emergency — which Presidents under extreme circumstances have done — and attempts to shut the border and block the asylum seekers.
Even if he doesn’t, that still doesn’t mean those migrants will ultimately be able to stay. The law also states that people who are “detrimental to the interests of the United States”, are ineligible for asylum.
That also doesn’t mean the law isn’t sometimes abused and used as a shortcut for legally immigrating to the U.S., which despite what Trump says is a very very hard thing to do. And even though the President says over and over again that Democrats are “for open borders” because they think it’s a good way to bring more Democratic voters into the country, and immigration laws are “Democrat inspired”, many Democrats — including President Obama — have spoken out against using the asylum law as a way of “jumping the line”.
A dramatic move by the President would almost certainly immediately trigger legal challenges all over the place, just as the travel ban did. But they would likely be unresolved before the November election, and right now Trump’s primary reason for focusing on the caravan (he’s said it) is because he thinks it’s a “winner” for Republicans. Taking such dramatic action would also likely elicit strong criticism from Democrats about the President’s disregard for the rule of law, which could also play into the President’s midterm strategy. Even though historically, asylum law and revisions to it have been far from solely Democratic contrivances.