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Trump admin announces rule to bar aliens with drunk driving and gang-related convictions from asylum

The Trump administration announced a plan to bar convicted drunk drivers, illegal alien re-entrants, and those involved in gang activity from claiming asylum in the United States under a new proposed regulation.

As much of Washington's attention was turned to the impeachment debate and votes in the House on Wednesday, the Department of Justice issued a news release saying that it and the Department of Homeland Security are proposing a rule to tighten requirements for foreigners to claim asylum in the United States by expanding the list of disqualifying crimes.

According to the DOJ, the new rule would expand the list of crimes that would make someone ineligible for asylum status to include convictions for:

  • Felonies under federal or state law
  • Alien smuggling or harboring
  • Illegal re-entry into the United States
  • Federal, state, tribal, or local crimes involving gang activity
  • "Certain federal, state, tribal, or local offenses concerning the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant," i.e. drunk driving
  • Domestic violence offenses at the federal, state, local, and tribal level, or adjudications
  • Misdemeanor offenses "related to false identification," illegally getting welfare benefits from a government entity, or the possession or trafficking of illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia

The proposed bars would be in addition to statutory asylum prohibitions already present in federal immigration law, the DOJ notes, "such as those relating to the persecution of others, convictions for particularly serious crimes, commission of serious nonpolitical crimes, security threats, terrorist activity, and firm resettlement in another country." The DOJ adds that one outcome of the proposed rule would be for federal authorities to "be able to devote more resources to the adjudication of asylum cases filed by non-criminal aliens."

The announcement marks yet another administration effort to address America's ongoing immigration crisis, much of which has been driven by a surge of asylum claims at the southern border. Previous efforts have included asylum agreements with other countries, the "remain in Mexico" policy, a court-stymied "third country" rule, a court-stymied move to replace the Flores catch-and-release agreement, and DNA testing of suspected fraudulent family units.

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