New Trump admin rule would further limit immigrants' eligibility for asylum

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By Julia Ainsley  with NBC News Politics
Image: A migrant sits with his children to apply for asylum to the United S
A migrant sits with his children to apply for asylum to the United States at the border with Mexico in Tijuana on Jan. 25, 2019.   -   Copyright  Gregory Bull AP file

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced a new rule on Wednesday that would further limit immigrants' eligibility for asylum if they have been convicted of certain crimes, including driving under the influence and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The rule, if finalized, would give asylum officers seven requirements with which to deem an immigrant ineligible to apply for asylum.

Other acts that would make an immigrant ineligible for asylum under the new rule include the unlawful receipt of public benefits, illegal re-entry after being issued a deportation order and being found "by an adjudicator" to have engaged in domestic violence, even if there was no conviction for such violence.

The rules could eliminate large numbers of asylum seekers from ever having their cases heard in court. Currently immigration courts have a backlog of over 1 million cases, according to data kept by Syracuse University.

In a statement, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security said the new rule would "increase immigration court efficiencies."

The Trump administration has unveiled a number of new requirements meant to curb asylum applications this year. The most successful of those policies has been "Remain in Mexico" or MPP, that requires lawful asylum seekers from Central America to wait in Mexico, often in dangerous conditions, until their court date in the United States. Over 60,000 asylum are currently waiting in Mexico for a decision to be made in their case, a process that can take over a year.