Stepping back on migrant-asylum policy
Over a Cup of Tea
Heidi M. Pascual
Publisher & Editor
2006 Journalist of the year
for the State of Wisconsin

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Recently, the Trump Administration issued a rule that requires asylum-seeking immigrants to first apply for
refugee status in another country en route to the US. Clearly, this is another hurdle that aims to slow the entry of
immigrants. While the rule specifically targets asylees passing through the Southern Border, it also affects all the
rest coming from other countries.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines asylum as “a discretionary benefit offered by the United
States Government to those fleeing persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a
particular social group, or political opinion.”

This tradition reflects the humanitarian side of our country that has become a refuge for many people persecuted
in their home countries for reasons stated above. While the same could become abused by political despots
friendly to the US but ousted from power by their own people (or military uprising), in most cases, the beneficiaries of this traditional policy are truly
those unjustly persecuted and whose lives (as well as their families’) are in danger.

I therefore see no reason why there is a need for an asylee to seek for a refugee status in a third country before applying for asylum in the US,
except to put another bar to immigration. Asylum seekers are running for their lives, why require them to seek refuge in a third country first when
they can be protected by the US right away? Our DHS and immigration people are supposed to be experts at checking the backgrounds of asylum
seekers, so I am confident no one that fall under the category of “US enemy” will be permitted to enter our country. A refugee status from another
country just means the background check will be done by the third country. How sure are we of the efficiency and accuracy of this initial check? And
once disapproved in third country, there’s no way the asylum seeker can enter the US. Time is of the essence here. It’s like getting oblivious to
whatever happens to someone asking for help, or asking for protection. Our country is therefore turning its back on its traditional practice of
helping people in distress, those knocking at our doors, sometimes those getting away from wars which we are involved in ourselves.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is planning to question
this rule in court, as it believes that the new rule is not only unlawful
but a unilateral reversal of the US “legal and moral commitment” to
protect people facing grave danger in their countries.
This new Trump rule has also received negative response from
Guatemala and Mexico, countries through which many Latin migrants
and refugees pass through before reaching the US. These
governments expressed disagreement against measures that limit
asylum and refugee status for those fearing for their lives and safety.

We in the Asian American community also question the moral basis
of this new hurdle for immigrants seeking asylum in the US. The
present Trump government should rethink this action which takes us
back to the years when our civil rights activists had to fight for the right
to live in a safe environment.
Congratulations to my granddaughter!

I’d like to congratulate one of my grandchildren, Alyssa Gabrielle
Pascual, a 13-year old student of Miriam College, Quezon City, for
winning 11 medals and a trophy at the World Scholars Cup country
elimination round (academics and the arts) held in Metro Manila
Sept. 2. She will compete at the world championship round to be held
at Yale University, USA, this coming November. More power, and win
some more medals for the Philippines, Aly!!!!!!