Trump Administration Considers Unprecedented Curbs on Asylum for Migrants

Jul 18, 2018 · 181 comments
mike (nola)
I am certainly sympathetic to the asylum seekers who have been physically assaulted and harmed. Trump and Sessions and the rest of the Xenophobes are terrified that the declining pace of white births in the U.S. will soon result in whites being the numerical minority. That which is foreign to us as people can be terrifying, and so many Americans have never been outside a 100 mile radius of where they were born for more than a minute. With that in mind I would actually like to see new regulations that place immigrants into states that are not densely populated and require them to stay in those states for at least 10 years. That distribution will do two things, alleviate population density issues in big cities where immigrants seem to congregate to be near other immigrants. It would also make it a reality that those lily white folks in the heartland would come face to face to the humanity of the people fleeing violence. That familiarity changes the thought processes and opinions of all but the most bigoted.
winthrop staples (newbury park california)
What this mostly means is that our organized crime slave-wage businesses will have a few less desperate, 3rd grade equivalent, no English slaves to exploit - who pay no taxes because their incomes are so low and over crowd our schools, drain scarce social services by having more children than they can support. And a few fake asylum seekers may have to stay home and actually work to make their nations of origin decent places to live instead of selfishly bailing out, going "for the money" to the USA. At least this is what foreign students I've gone to university with have said about most of their disloyal countrymen who come to the USA using all manner of contrived stories to game asylum like intentionally joining some crazy illegal religious sect so they can claim government oppression.
DMA (Austin, Tx)
If we are going to limit refugee entry to the U.S. (which is counter to what this country was built on), then we should at least fund a massive "Marshal Plan" for the countries where the refugees are originating. Nobody travels 1,200+ miles by foot on a whim - and if you want to get to the US that badly, we should welcome you. We should assist the Central American governments with security, and business investments to provide opportunity for the people there. It could be done for much less than what Trump wants to spend on the Wall.
Coffee Bean (Java)
But their experiences were viewed very differently in the United States. While migrants fleeing communist governments in Central America during the Cold War were welcomed in the 1980s, those arriving now do not fit into a larger American geopolitical agenda. Their afflictions — gang violence, domestic brutality and poverty — are neither American national security priorities nor anything that was originally intended to be covered under the laws of asylum. ___ In this day and age, more so than the 80s, the US has far more problems within to tackle (violence against women, meth/drug addiction, poverty, gang violence, etc.). Its time to face the fact that a little self-help is in order before attempting to be the end all, be all for everyone around the world who's government has failed them. Long before Trump took the megaphone or Obama threw down the gauntlet, everyone knew the US was doing the heavy lifting at NATO. Where is NATO on the problems in Central America? If the US pulled back its %age of GDP allocation to NATO it would fall like a house of cards. In no way, shape or form is isolationism the answer yet taking a moment or two to correct what is ailing our country within so as to provide better and more efficient assistance to the outside world may be what is necessary.
Kathy Kaufman (Livermore, CA)
Our country has always stood for offering immigrants a chance at a better life. Our country covers a large areay not limited in size. and new immigrants have always found ways to enrich our economy. This administration has taken the heart out of what we stood for, and in that way supports the awful conditions that asylum seekers are fleeing. We should be ashamed of ourselves if we support this branding of America.
Thomas H. Pritchett (Easton PA)
Since the GOP is supposedly represents the Christians of this nation, Christians who of course are all familiar with teachings of Christ in the Bible, I would suggest that they change their mascot from an elephant to a goat. That way they would be compliant with Christ's teachings in Matthew 25:31-46.
John (Conn.)
They need to arrest a few employers -- they are the real attraction in most cases.
Sir Reginald V. Wedge (Bellingham)
As Archie Bell and The Drells once sang, we, America, need to do the "tighten up." We need to tight up the cracks, crevices, loopholes and all deteriorating situations which allow various peoples into The United States. The nation is awash in an overflow of people who are flooding across our borders. America should close its borders, stop people from coming across those borders, turn people around at the borders and deport (get rid of) as many undesirables (and others) as possible. The United States can no longer support the "poor and cuddled masses" no matter what they yearn for. We are a Welfare case ourselves and cannot the number of Americans, and others, that we have in our country now. America needs to set a massive policy of population control. After 242 years it is time to just say No!
ERP (Bellows Falls, VT)
The Times has undoubtedly noted that when it publishes another article asserting the heartlessness of US policy on asylum seekers and the "undocumented", a very large segment of its commenters indicate their disagreement. Many of them make the point that the US is simply incapable of accommodating the suffering millions in the rest of the world. Has the Times wondered how it can have that many readers who, by the standards of its usual commentators, are "alt-right" sympathizers?
PhoebeS (Frankfurt)
NYT: Please get your facts straight. Your writer states incorrectly: "While migrants fleeing communist governments in Central America during the Cold War were welcomed in the 1980s, ..." Guatemala never had a communist government. It had a democratically elected government that was working on social justice and land reform. The US company United Fruit was unhappy about this and turned to the US Government for help. The CIA then helped stage a military coup which resulted in the genocide of the Mayan population. In the 80s a lot of Mayans had to flee because their government denounced them as guerrillas and eradicated whole villages in the Guatemalan mountain range. If you want to know what really happens, watch the documentary "When the Mountains Tremble."
wist45 (New York)
Most Americans are against "crime victim" asylum. Any Democrat running for the Presidency is likely to lose on this one issue if he or she is pro-Open Borders. Democrat politicians should stop paying so much attention to NY Times asylum sob stories, and spend more time listening to their constituents. Otherwise we are likely to end up with Trump as President for 4 more years.
Shenoa (United States)
Remember when the Rajneeshees transported thousands of unvetted homeless people from across the country to their compound in Eastern Oregon...registering them to vote in order to sway local elections and control the agenda? There was a price to pay: the Rajneeshees won those elections, but destroyed themselves and their culture in the process. How are the neo-democrats advocating on behalf of illegal immigrants different? Answer: they’re not.
Michael Tyndall (SF)
The recent surge in immigrants and asylum seekers from Central America is not a catastrophe or an unprecedented crisis. The number is actually down significantly from levels seen during Obama's term. We've always been a country of immigrants (mostly by displacing indigenous peoples). We did not restrict immigration or even track it until 1850. That year, there were 2.2 million immigrants living in the US, nearly 10% of the total population. Between 1860 and 1920, the immigrant share fluctuated between 13 and 15%. Restrictive immigration laws in 1921 and 1924, coupled with the Great Depression and WWII, led to a sharp drop in immigration. The foreign-born share then steadily declined to a low of 5% in 1970. Immigration rose after Congress abolished country quotas in 1965. Most came from Latin America and Asia with the percentage of U.S. immigrants rising steadily from about 5% to 13%. In 2014 the U.S. immigrant population was 42.4 million, or 13.3 percent, of total US population. In that year, 1.3 million people moved here. India led (147,500) followed by China (131,800), Mexico (130,000), Canada (41,200), and the Philippines (40,500). Our current economic angst is not from immigration (it's demonstrably good for the economy). The actual threats have been tech changes, relentless automation, some outsourcing, and the funneling of virtually all the economic gains to our wealthiest citizens. Trump has misdiagnosed the problem and has no answer beyond a stupid wall.
Louise (Seattle)
Your statistics don’t convince me why I should be in favor of illegal immigration. No woman in the United States want a large undocumented male population living here. We already feel self-protective. Also - we are already overpopulated - so arguing that we have a consistent percentage of immigrants is ridiculous.
SD (NSW, Australia)
This is an actual question that someone (a young lawyer with a top firm) I met at a party recently posed to me: "We need to ask: does the West have any moral authority left, after centuries of arrogant domination of most of the world, to retain border controls with a straight face..." I was too stunned to respond. Not the sort of discussions I normally venture into, but the vehemence with which this question was raised perplexed me.
Jacqueline (Colorado)
I'm sorry but this article only convinced me more that DV and drug gangs shouldn't be valid claims of asylum. the fact that asylum claims jumped more than 1000% alone in 10 years really makes me concerned. Sessions is right. Having a bad life is not a valid claim for asylum. If it was why dont all the women who are beat by their husbands in America, or all the people in the Bronx who live with MS-13 and the Trinatarios, have a valid claim to asylum in Canada or Britain? The original 1951 categories were correct. If we just keep adding on groups then everyone on earth will have a valid asylum claim to go anywhere else on earth. Plus America is where all the narco-gangs end up. How could we be considered some sort of safe haven when the narco-gangs main purpose for existence is to operate in America selling drugs? Do those drug addicts in Iowa have a valid claim of asylum in Canada because they are being exploited and killed by gangs?
vincentgaglione (NYC)
The asylum system is broken. We cannot be the sole nation to absorb every asylum seeker for every reason that is claimed. The fact is that the Congress has failed to implement a comprehensive immigration plan that addresses the issues. In the meantime, we have a President who ethnically and racially and religiously discriminates about who can and can’t come into the nation. There are just as many people, maybe even more, entering the country by plane and disappearing into the nation, ignoring their visa requirements. Where is the rhetoric about them? It is this double standard that most galls me. We have a Republican Congress, we have a Republican President, and we have an immigration mess. Yet their ire and antipathy is aimed at people in distress. Good old Judaeo-Christian and family values they tell me!
Janet (St. Paul, MN)
Let's remember that our country has contributed to the injustices and violence these refugees are fleeing. We have poured weapons into these countries' militaries and police forces, trained their forces at the School of the Americas in Georgia and supported oppressive regimes. Many of the people turned aside at our border are swiftly captured by cartels who traffic them
Mark R. (Rockville MD)
The number of people granted asylum has never been large. As with almost all immigrants, we gain economically from them coming. And we violate treaties and American law when we turn legitimate asylum seekers away. Either the economic benefits America receives from refugees and asylees, or our treaty commitments should be enough reason to let them in. But the most important reason is for America to remain America.
Olivia (NYC)
The first country these “asylum” seekers reach is Mexico where they should make their asylum claim. There are others countries closer to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador where they could and should seek aylum. But they want to come here because the freebies are better. They are economic migrants. I am happy that Trump and Sessions are making it more difficult for them to come here. Our law needs to be changed so that they have to request asylum in their country of origin, not here.
Steve Acho (Austin)
Of course it does. The Nazi Party of America has chosen immigrants as its scapegoat for angry, impotent blue-collar white men. Just as Jews had their legal status taken away in 1930's Germany, immigrants are witnessing the same in the United States. People ask how an educated, wealthy population in Germany could have fallen for Hitler's lies. Well guess what, people, we're not so superior to them after all.
Kevin McCarthy (Ireland)
I agree wholeheartedly with Steve Acho’s historically inclusive and empirical analysis of previous American ‘nativist’ xenophobia that abandoned Germany Jews to the incremental horror of the Nazi antisemitic conflagration by refusing to acknowledge the evidential process of isolation, persecution and finally extermination. As an Irishman who has far more relatives in America as a consequence of historical imperial exploitation, I have always viewed the States as the highest moral force in the contemporary world. Sadly under the indispensably racist administration of Trump, my worldview - alongside many of my fellow European citizens - of America as a bastion of democracy that has been a safe haven for persecuted minority’s is all but entirely dead. I know that this comment will draw the ire and contempt of many on this thread who from the ‘safety’ of their American privilege will cite statistics of so-called immigration ‘abuse’, but surely when one examines historical precedent whether it is the Irish Famine, the Jewish Shoah, the Balkan Ethnocide or the Rwandan Tribal Genocide it is incumbent on contemporary America to honour their ancestors who oftentimes arrived as a consequence of similar persecution, or under Trump’s present Xenophobic administration, perhaps this is simply a naive thought?
Get Over It (USA)
@Kevin McCarthy Germany killed the Jews not America. This sort of over the top rhetoric is why Dems will lose elections. Morality does not mean open borders. Racism does not mean immigration laws.
Get Over It (USA)
The solution to any problem any unskilled migrant has is not migration here. It's about time we said so. Our immigration laws do not and should not serve the needs of the world's poor. They are here to benefit Americans and Americans only. Immigration is not a civil right nor is it a solution to every single thing that every happened that is not perfect to someone somewhere.
PiSonny (NYC)
If you are fleeing danger, it is logical for your seek refuge in Mexico, your first "safe" country. It does not make sense to anyone other than a hardened liberal that the dude fleeing danger would endure another thousands of miles of journey with the help of exploitative coyotes to come to US border. The liberal position on this matter is sheer lunacy.
Mmm (Nyc)
Permitting "cut the line" asylum/immigration on the basis of ordinary crime and poverty in a country of origin is the historically unprecedented policy. We can refuse to throw open our borders on the basis of poverty and crime and the Statue of Liberty can stay right where it is (exactly where it stood before we even permitted immigration from many nations outside of Europe). I fear prioritizing immigration from nations on the basis of impoverishment, destitution and violence (instead of skills, education and shared values) will ruin this country by creating a permanent underclass of unassimilated immigrants and their descendants.
nomad127 (New York/Bangkok)
Will the Democrats explain why we need more unskilled illegals when millions of American citizens want to work, but need to be retrained or reskilled? Can they explain why minimum wage part time jobs are going to illegals and remittances to their families abroad, and not to those American teens seeking them? How many immigrants/migrants/asylum seekers/refugees and all other categories do they want to welcome every year? 8 out of 10 of the comments here are favorable to Trump's immigration policies. This seems to indicate a change in attitude compared to two or three years ago that should be acknowledged or there might be a price to pay at the ballot box.
rino (kansas)
But ... apparently there are NOT millions of Americans needing to work. Otherwise why would Mr. Trump's Mar a Lago need 61 visas for foreign workers? Surely there are 61 people in the millions you reference who can clean rooms, wait tables and/or cook?
rtj (Massachusetts)
@rino "Surely there are 61 people in the millions you reference who can clean rooms, wait tables and/or cook?" Surely there are. Trump, like most other businesses who would prefer to hire foreign workers, doesn't want to pay them. "We currently have 5,136 qualified candidates in Palm Beach County for various hospitality positions listed in the Employ Florida state jobs database....""
nydoc (nyc)
As an immigrant myself, I have to agree that the system is out of control. First, there has to be a differentiation between legal and illegal immigrants. An engineer from India waiting years for a work permit is not the same as an uneducated migrant who treks across the Mexican border originally from Central America. Like Canada, we should have a system of awarding points to those who have a clean record, who speak or are learning English, and can contribute to our society. Americans have to realize that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are seeking economic opportunity as some countries in Latin and Central America are so dysfunctional, that living the in shadows in the US is so much preferable. Granting asylum for spousal abuse is just plain ridiculous. If my spouse slaps me three times across the face am I entitled to German or EU citizenship? Under this guideline, virtually all Muslim women can argue they are not allowed to drive, are treated as second class citizens, subject to potential female genital mutilation, acid attacks etc. The cure to spousal abuse is divorce. If their society does not allow divorce, well, they need to fix it internally. Escaping gang violence is another silly excuse. On July 4th weekend, more people were shot and killed in Chicago alone than the entire year in the Netherlands (22 million). Can people from Chicago demand asylum in the EU, or perhaps be relocated to San Diego, where it is demonstrably safer?
Shenoa (United States)
Let’s not pretend that millions of foreign nationals illegally crossing our borders doesn’t adversely impact our own citizenry...economically, socially, and politically. The quality of life in this country is in steep decline on every level, to which the burden of illegal migration greatly contributes. There are approximately 6 BILLION people living in poor, overpopulated, often violent third world countries who want to migrate to first world countries...and millions of them are under the impression that our sovereign borders and immigration laws don’t apply to them. Enough! You want to come to this country? Respect our laws and get in line!
Jonathan Katz (St. Louis)
Real refugees are desperate for asylum, anywhere. Why don't these Guatemalans, Salvadoreans and Hondurans ask for asylum in Mexico, where they already are? Mexico is a fine country with a long tradition of giving asylum. I know of people, fleeing genuine persecution, who were glad of asylum in Haiti(!); it saved their lives.
PiSonny (NYC)
If Miguel-Francisco was fleeing violence and lawlessness in Guatemala, why would he leave his son who must have been a small boy behind to live in danger when he fled to the USA? If violence in your neighborhood is good reason to seek asylum, then the entire South Chicago can move to Canada and seek refuge under this criterion. Many of these people who claim asylum have been deported earlier for entering the country illegally, and most of these repeat offenders are coached by "liberal" activists to say the magic word ASYLUM. Enough already. Liberals want us to be a nation of suckers and are happy to turn us into a LAWLESS mecca for those who claim to flee LAWLESSNESS. Insanity, any which way you want to look at it.
MHD (Ground 0)
That's such a shame, since we seem to create so many dangerous places around the world while we are busy exporting democracy and defending our freedoms. Just this week we hear about having to air lift the White Helmets. I hope other, more civilized, countries will open their doors to others in need and feel the benefits of generosity and love. For, if not myself, then my children may need asylum from the violent, paranoid, selfish lunacy that lives in American hearts.
PiSonny (NYC)
If you keep up with this nonsense of false sympathy for phony asylum seekers and for people who break and enter our country, you are going to have learn to live under Trump presidency for 6 and 1/2 more years. Have at it, Libs.
John O (NJ)
I watch the NYC news every morning. Children hit with stray bullets from young gang members shooting guns at each other. Women being raped in doorways and alleys, molested on the subway. Elderly people being punched in the face. Seems like the NYC citizens would qualify for asylum. This happens every day. The city the asylum seekers move to may be as dangerous as where they come from. As a country we have plenty of problems to solve without taking on more.
Clotario (NYC)
These articles are getting exhausting. As with all heartstring-pulls, it seeks to turn off critical reasoning and push facts and logic aside, the aim being to promote an agenda. "In interviews with more than a dozen of these families...." ya know, because there are only families seeking asylum In doing, the obfuscation of the issues becomes glaring. This is a multi-dimensional issue, and 'let them all in' is just as simple minded a stand to take as 'let's build a wall'. But voters on the Left need more than jingoisms. Moves like this by the Trump administration, and the concurrent weepy howling of liberals, are going to land Trump or one of his ilk back in the Oval Office in 2020. Stop taking the bait, pop your information bubble, get him where we can win. If the Dems continue to guilelessly headline extremely divisive social issues as having straightforward solutions they will be full heirs of Hillary, again having little to offer but 'Not Trump'.
Margo (Atlanta)
"their government didn't provide them with any opportunity" and the US is somehow in violation by not allowing access? Where and when will those country's governments be held in as much distain as the US for this situation?
Clotario (NYC)
@Margo: Those countries benefit mightily from the flow of workers they provide. They produce good for their home countries than they ever could staying home. Remittances! Guatemala alone got a $7 billion shot in the arm because of foreign workers, hence the construction boom they are experiencing. (Just noticed that Miguel, as featured in the story, was "particularly vulnerable" to extortion because he had family in the US who could/did send him remittances. So what else could he do but seek asylum in the US for himself, too? And one wonders why people are suspicious of abuse in the asylum process)
Margo (Atlanta)
@Clotario - sure Guatemala benefits from the cash remitted byits citizens residing in other countries, but the government should be shamed and scorned for not keeping their citizens safe.
Living in a poor or dysfunctional country is and should not be a ground for asylum nor a guaranteed admission ticket to the United States. I was in Vienna in fall 2015, during the so-called "refugee" crisis that brought "women and children fleeing" Syria to Europe. I walked through Wien Hauptbahnhof everyday for three weeks. Yes, there was a handful of kids. And there were lines and lines of young, strong bucks sitting on the floor, waiting for admission to Europe. What is THEIR responsibility (or Miguel Francisco's) to do something in THEIR country so that THAT country stops being poor and/or ceases being democratically dysfunctional?
Anne (Portland)
As a country, we are becoming more and more fearful, isolated, and paranoid. It is not healthy.
Yulia Berkovitz (NYC)
@Anne on the contrary, it is the only way to survive. Just look at France, with its 20% Muslim (read foreign) population vs. Austria (Muslim population: less than 1%). If you have money, go to Vienna vs. Paris. Judge for yourself. It is THAT easy. We owe first and foremost to our kids and grandkids.
camorrista (Brooklyn, NY)
The comments in this thread by the usual throng of rabid haters of illegal immigrants (or asylum-seekers) vividly demonstrate why Donald Trump was elected. The also demonstrate that the coming civil war will be as long and as bloody as the original. Never forget that hatred will be met with hatred.
BTO (Somerset, MA)
If you assume that all nations operate with the same level of law enforcement as ours, then yes these people do not need the asylum they are asking for. However most of the countries that these people are coming from don't have near the level of law enforcement to protect their people, so yes some do deserve asylum. But Trump and Sessions would make the argument that they are lying and who would know better about lying then two of the biggest liars in the world. This is the USA and yes we have immigration laws, so yes we need to stop people that come into the country and detain them until we can determine their reasons for coming here, but we need to do so humanly and keep them as a family if that's how they entered the country. Some will stay and some will be returned, but as a whole family.
Robert Keller (Germany)
The overwhelming percentage of people who emigrated from white Europe did so for the very same reasons these people today are. Our European ancestors were feeling persecution, poverty, evil governments, lack of opportunity etc. What's different today than perhaps skin color?
GRH (New England)
@Robert Keller, what's different today? About 6.7 billion more people globally maybe? A going, going, gone, depleted Ogallala aquifer in the Mid-west? 39.5 million more people in California, a dessert climate? Knowledge about environmental sustainability? In short, there are probably tens of thousands of factors that are different today.
Get Over It (USA)
@Robert Keller The difference is the population today is much larger and we have a welfare state. We're also not in need of unskilled labor anymore.
Michael (Ottawa)
@Robert Keller: It's less about "skin color" and more about people's fear of overpopulation and a reduced standard of living. Furthermore, American history is rife with details of discrimination and resentment that "white" Italians and Irish people faced when they immigrated the U.S. And speaking of history: Weren't the majority of Germany's Jewish people that were sent to concentration camps and exterminated "white" people?
David (California)
Was it a bad dream, or do I remember seeing Republicans line up to berate Obama's use of executive power?
Ray (Fl)
Chris (Philadelphia, PA)
If the Democratic candidate in 2020 supports opening borders or loosening immigration laws, I will stay home.
@Chris If (s)he does, then you may not have a home to stay in. The real flaw is the liberal assumption that we can have a "diversity" of cultures if there is no place that, socially and not just individually, you can live and nurture your OWN culture. (Or is there no such thing as "Western" or "American" culture, only Guatemalan, Congolese, Indian, El Salvadoran, Haitian, Malian, Yemeni, and other cultures du jour, which CAN maintain their identity and domestic cradle without being accused of "racism," "xenophobia," "provincialism," "hardheartedness," and whatever other epithets the social justice warriors are lobbing today?
Vivek (Davis, CA)
@Chris good, stay home because even if you get to the voting booth, you're only going to vote Republican.
Kate (NYC)
I'd be so much more receptive to hearing the liberal point of view if even one liberal could answer the question "At what point is enough enough?". How many millions of uneducated, low-skilled immigrants/asylum seekers is enough? Ten million? Thirty million? One hundred million? A billion? Everyone has a sob story. But you simply can't let them ALL in. The US labor market and infrastructure would collapse in a few years of unrestricted open borders policy. Oh. Oops. Sorry, I forget that this point of view is considered fascism nowadays. Enjoy Trump's second term, I guess.
Ny Surgeon (Ny)
@Kate Apparently 'progressive' means continue until there is nothing left for those who pay.
Gusting (Ny)
I’d be more receptive to the right’s point of view if they could explain why people seeking asylum aren’t treated according to Jesus’ admonition to care for the least of these as if they were him.
Kate (NYC)
@Gusting What does that have to do with anything? This isn't a theocracy. Jesus has no place in immigration policy. I'm an atheist and not a member of the right wing, btw.
Ken (MT Vernon, NH)
The immigrant milking huckster lawyers will have to throw out all those pre-filled amnesty applications they made in preparation for the blue wave. Such a waste of paper.
AnnS (MI)
There are 7,600,000,000 people in the world 329,000,000 live in the US. Around 1,500,000,000 live in place like the EU, Canada, Australia - places that are acceptable to US sensibilities with respect to incomes, medical care, women's rights & (the NYT's preferred groups) gays. The other 5,800,000,000 live in places where the US does not always approve of their government (like China) or that is poor or violent or that has a social structure that offends US attitudes about women, gays etc. Pretty much something about 76% of the world gets American -especially upper middle class do-gooder buttinsky American - knickers in a twist Of those 5,800,000,000, probably 2,900,000,000 are women. SO exactly how many of those women does the NYT want allowed in if they tell a story of domestic abuse? 20%? 580,000,000? That is nearly DOUBLE the US population. Maybe 290,000,000 are homosexual. Nearly equal to the US population Countries where there is violence or poverty......add in another 1,000,000,000 to 2,000,000,000 minimum... Basically the NYT wants around 2,870,000,000 people to be able to come to the US - nearly NINE TIMES the US population - because the over 76% of the world is not like the US upper middle class in NYC This constant "Open the Borders" refrain driven by the NYT's unending belief in that it is the "white man's burden" (or at least the "US left's burden") to spread civilization to the ignorant & right all wrongs by US standards is a POLITICAL LOSER
Margo Channing (NYC)
Please fix the problems in these countries. We are not the world's innkeeper. Every day the Times publishes these sob stories and the dems fall into the trap. Keep playing identity politics and putting the rights of illegals over American citizens and these immigrants who actually follow the letter of the law when applying for citizenship and you will hand 45 another 4 years to decimate the country. Keep it up.
taxidriver (fl.)
Sounds like what the Russians have been doing for years.
Ny Surgeon (Ny)
The first unfortunate soul here entered the country illegally. Yet he then should be granted legal asylum? Please. There is a difference between those who are politically/religiously persecuted and those who live in bad places. Should every Syrian come here? Every Yemeni? Everyone living in Putin's Russia/Crimea? Come on. Why are these people here? We give better social benefits. They may be fleeing danger, but pass through many stable countries to get better social services. Do any go south?
susan (nyc)
Time to send the Statue of Liberty back to France. It's message is no longer relevant while Trump is in office.
AnnS (MI)
@susan That is merely a plaque with the words written by a 5th rate US poet who was allowed to put it up because she raised a lot of money to pay for the base Mounting the statute was a PRIVATE effort - NYT back then called it "folly" It was not - and is not - and never has been US law or policy
susan (nyc)
And how do you think your ancestors and others got here? Were they "beamed down" from a starship?
Al (Idaho)
@susan. TheSOL is not u.s. law or policy. It never has been. The u.s. population was 1/6 what it is now when France gave it to us. France is presently reaping the benefits of open borders. I'm thinking they don't want it back.
Sheldon Bunin (Jackson Heights)
The policies of our present Trump-Putin regime as far as the few early comments I have read shows just how far what was once America have eroded and I wonder if their attitude toward asylum would be if those asylum seekers were white evangelicals.
Sara Solnick (Currently on Trans Siberian Railway)
There’s no such thing as unaccented English. You could say she speaks with an American accent.
paul (White Plains, NY)
Not every illegal alien breaking into America can claim asylum as an excuse for doing so. It's time to crack down and stop this abuse of American good will. We cannot be the depository for the world's outcasts.
VK (São Paulo)
But don't worry, Americans: those PR asylums (Latin American criminals, decadent oligarchic families from Cuba and Venezuela etc.) will continue full force, I'm sure of it.
allright (New York)
I can't just pack up my children and claim asylum in Switzerland because my husband is abusing me here! Asylum should be for true Genocide like families of ousted politicians or those specifically targeted for their political beliefs.
libdemtex (colorado/texas)
Every day there is something else to be ashamed of.
Tom (Oklahoma)
If we stop lighting the path to the golden door for refugees, we might as well melt down the Statue of Liberty and sell it off as scrap metal. America, R. I. P.
Al (Idaho)
@Tom. Why do liberals get all weepy about a statue that has nothing to do with the problems of a modern America of 325 million faces? Maybe once we needed waves of unskilled, uneducated people with big families, but that America hasn't existed for at least 75 years.
batazoid (Cedartown,GA)
Good! It's about time this Obama lie is put to rest. These measures were intentionally expounded by Obama, along with a willing RINO Congress, to provide a faux basis to infiltrate millions of otherwise illegal aliens into this country.
Make America Sane (NYC)
@batazoid Actually Obama had already begun the returns..... more so than Bush.
batazoid (Cedartown,GA)
@Make America Sane True enough. But the point being, Obama used unconstitutional means to achieve his political objective .
father lowell laurence (nyc)
Compassionate Catholic playwrights are among those participating in dramatist Dr. Larry Myers' Playwrights Sanctuary. Dr. Myers' retired St John's University professor has continued work of his theater foundation (endorsed by the late Edward Albee)mentoring newer & younger writers. Fighting abuse with poetic prayers & protest the group fuses spirituality & experimental theater arts. Myers' own work "Immigration Braille" is a model. It concerns on site Washington DC investigation of the DACA controversy.
mjbarr (Murfreesboro,Tennessee)
Step 1. Take down the quote from Emma Lazarus that is at the Statue of Libery. Step 2. Give back the Statue to France.
Get Over It (USA)
@mjbarr France doesn't have open borers either.
David H. (Miami Beach, FL)
Hello, Canada???? Go make Canada get and low ball their country's jobs.
Green Tea (Out There)
Has anyone yet proposed a change in the number of immigrants we permit to enter the country? Clearly the million a year we allow at present isn't enough for some of us. So what new number should we adopt? Or are we supposed to just do away with limits altogether and allow anyone who wants to to enter?
Get Over It (USA)
@Green Tea All the Dems want is a new voter base.
Rod (Miami, FL)
As this article properly states regarding earlier asylum cases: These people were largely fleeing government persecution based on their race, religion, nationality or political views — four discrete categories for asylum under international law — and Republicans and Democrats mostly agreed on helping them. I agree asylum should be based on those categories. Presently, the asylum system is being gamed by some: Their afflictions — gang violence, domestic brutality and poverty — are neither American national security priorities nor anything that was originally intended to be covered under the laws of asylum. The USA tried regime change. Obviously that did not work either. Congress has kicked the can down the road and that also needs to stop.
Jim Tagley (Naples, FL)
Closed for business. I like that phrase. How does it benefit the U.S. and its citizens, at this point in our history, to take in people who have nothing? What's in it for us? We, the citizens of the U.S., are still suffering as a result of the millions arriving in America during the 16th to the 19th century.
Jack (Cincinnati, OH)
It will be interesting to see how the Democratic Party attempts to sell to the American people the idea that we should have a porous border to all of the world under bad governance. That approach is the fun-house mirror version of Wilsonian policies.
William Case (United States)
The Trump administration has not made any changes to U.S. asylum laws. A fear of gang violence, spousal abuses or poverty does not qualify a person for asylum under U.S. asylum law. To be eligible for asylum in the United States, an applicant must meet the definition of refugee in the Immigration and Nationality Act. The act defines refugee as: “Any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Applicants bear the burden of proof.
Maria Bucur (Bloomington, IN)
There is no question that this is a way to make the profile of asylum seeking people better educated and wealthier, thus less likely to be persons of color. This is a method for making America whiter. I say this as an immigrant from Eastern Europe, white and well educated whose family was allowed in the US at a time when many people from outside of Europe were also applying for asylum (Iran in particular at that time), with very little chance of getting in.
Margo (Atlanta)
You can say that, but is it true? Can you give statistics?
Maria Bucur (Bloomington, IN)
@Margo I am not sure how it is possible to give stats on something that has just become a policy. Obviously I am indicating a prediction.
William Case (United States)
The United States is working with Mexico President-elect Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador on a “safe third country agreement” that would require asylum seekers transiting through Mexico to apply for protection in that nation rather than in the United States. It would allow U.S. border guards to turn back asylum seekers into Mexico. The United States already has a similar agreement with Canada. Meanwhile, the United States should change its asylum laws to permit asylum seekers to apply for asylum at U.S. consulates and embassies in their home country or in neighboring countries between their home countries and the United States. Advocacy groups oppose such a change because they want asylum seekers to cross the border illegaly in numbers large enough to overwhelm U.S. detention facilities. The case backlog already exceeds 700,000 and hearing dates have been pushed back years. In Houston, hearing dates are scheduled nearly five years in the future.
MV (Arlington,VA)
I understand the arguments of Sessions, though I still favor giving asylum to people fleeing gang violence as a humanitarian gesture. I'm not so concerned about fraud; what's the fraud? That people will come here, work, and become productive members of society? In the case of Mr. Miguel-Francisco, there was likely another solution: As a permanent resident, he could have filed an immigrant petition for his son (as long as the son was unmarried). If he becomes as US citizen (which he presumably can), he can petition the son and grandchildren. About a seven-year wait at present.
Margo (Atlanta)
Alternatively, he could simply be relieved of his green card and be deported for encouraging others to break our immigration laws.
Unfortunate (Mumbai )
Shortage of judges in immigration courts,and cases backlog running into lakhs. Unbelievable. This problem exists in Asian nations. Asylum frauds can happen. What about rich people,who want to become US citizens? Asylum in other nations is not a recent phenomenon,it has been there since ages. The US seems to be rewriting its history - it can no longer be called a nation of immigrants.
RAD61 (New York)
A much more balanced article than the opinion piece from Gail Collins and Bret Stephens yesterday, with their moral superiority of referring to limits on immigration as "xenophobic populism" and "wanting to support closed borders, racist rants". It is also worth pointing out that there are 12 US consulates in Mexico, where asylum seekers are supposed to apply. If they do not have valid grounds, they will be rejected and not allowed to enter the US. If they enter the US illegally and apply here, they are allowed to stay while their case is pending, which is a clear perversion of incentives.
George S (New York, NY)
Once again article like this give Mexico another free pass. Asylum tenets of the UN and international law will generally make Mexico the first country of asylum. This is no different than what has happened in Europe where refugees claiming asylum from Africa (legitimate or not) should be applying for asylum in the first European country they enter, such as Italy or Spain (a current source of on-going tension), yet somehow they end up in Germany or the Netherlands. This is plainly a case of economic shopping, not just safety. So it is here - trekking through the vastness of Mexico from, say Guatemala, doesn't cut it; if they are in fact legitimate refugees they should be claiming the right of asylum in Mexico, not the United States.
Jim (Cascadia)
Another reason for international open borders. The flow of humanity should be considered as a normal culturally evolution of our species. Factors on the planet towards physical flow of us come from many sources in nature and human activity and inactivity to correct corrosive actions from governments, business and religious organizations.
FunkyIrishman (member of the resistance)
The United States bears a lot of the responsibility for the refugees by way of meddling for decades in the elections/governments of South America, the failed war on drugs that has contributed almost exclusively for the violence, and of course decades of war that that has displaced millions. The concept of a ''closed border'' is a new one. (republican) All of the above needs to be addressed in a humane and equitable way, because many might want to raise the drawbridge, but soon the walls will not be high enough. We have not even scratched the surface in discussing displacement due to climate change (which the U.S. is the leading cause of in the world by far) and exponential population growth. Aye, there are going to be many that will say that it is not their problem, or there is not enough room or resources, but again, when dealing with the air we all breathe, the water we all drink and so on, it is all related. There needs to be a global solution, otherwise we are going to be all wiped out right quick. Your choice.
GTM (Austin TX)
The US needs to control immigration at its borders or our society will be overwhelmed by economic refugees seeking a better life. There are limits to the number of immigrants we can assimilate without degrading the lives of our own citizens. Currently, approx. 15 Million US children live in poverty - 20% of children in our country. That level of poverty is a sobering fact of life for many in the USA. We need to adress this issue by focusing our nations priorities on food security, education and housing for our children. The US government should also expand our efforts at improving the legal systems of neighboring countries from which so many immigrants attempt to illegally enter our country. Gang violence, fueled by drugs sent to US market, is rampant in areas of Central America. Barring legalization of "recreational drugs", this is unlikely to change. Lets take 10% of the bloated $700 Billion Defense Dept annual budget and apply that to improving the lives our impoversihed children in America. Lets take another 10% of that bloated $700 Billion Defense Dept annual budget and apply that to the State Department so they can support conditions in the Central Americas. Fewer F35 fighter planes and warships are a small price to pay for the improved lives of our neighbors and improved security along our southern border.
GRH (New England)
Very well said, and fully agreed, but good luck when even so-called "progressives" like Bernie Sanders put the military Keynesianism of the F-35 fighter jet ahead of the health and home values of his own constituents. This is a senator from a safe seat in a true-blue state and he still prioritizes basing the F-35 in Vermont's most densely populated area, regardless of the F-35's newly expanded "not suitable for residential use" zone. And the expense of thousands and thousands of people and their homes; their schools; their places of worship; their daycares, etc.
poslug (Cambridge)
And the Trump/Sessions child confiscation plan is costing us all millions. Politico puts forth a $40M number for housing the children removed from parents, money removed from medical research on critical issues that impact all tax payers (Zika, maybe Lyme, the lurking ones from Ebola to who knows what). No thought in advance contributed the border cost but it still would have cost us all millions. GOP wars, short changing of science, non negotiated of drug costs, etc all undercut GOP cost control arguments. Waste, incompetence, and corruption, the real GOP.
Eero (East End)
Here is the lie to the new "rules" for asylum - the Tump administration has closed its gates to refugees from the Middle East. There is no doubt that those refugees are made up of those fleeing persecution based on race, religion, nationality or political views, but our doors are closed to them, principally based on their religion. Our doors are closed even to those endangered by the fact that they helped us in the wars we started. This is not a law enforcement issue, this is racism pure and simple.
Jim (Memphis, TN)
The article points out: Their afflictions — gang violence, domestic brutality and poverty — are neither American national security priorities nor anything that was originally intended to be covered under the laws of asylum. So, Trump is upholding what the law has been all along. Gee. Getting pilloried for upholding the law and not unilaterally expanding the categories. If the US is responsible for helping everyone in Latin America who is the victim of gang or domestic violence, maybe we should get back in the business of helping them find leaders who can maintain order.
Ch (Peoria)
Trump’s immigration policy is being dictated by Stephen Miller, who’s clearly a white supremacist and a nationalist. I’m not surprised Trump is trying to kick not only illegal immigrants, but also legal immigrants who have follow the rule of law down to the letter. A mistake however small instantly means deportation. People are going to leave America and never come back. Good luck making it Great Again.
Get Over It (USA)
@Ch American citizenship is not a civil right. Since when are people entitled to break our laws and stay here?
Albela Shaitan (Midwest)
NYT should also do a story about the woes of those who sponsor legal immigrants. Some times those in line for an immigration visa have to wait for more than 20 years. On average the wait time is about 14 years for those legally trying to come to the US. The long delays keep families apart as well. The silence on part of the mainstream media makes a mockery of this illegal vs legal debate and conveys the impression that somehow the rights of illegals are more important than those who follow rules and bide their time in their home countries, often in horrendous conditions. How about some fairness in coverage? Or, are you trying to help Mr. Trump's agenda?
Andrea (Boston)
Asylum seekers are human beings and should be treated as such. Let's not kid ourselves; Trump's policy changes are based in racism and are a last futile attempt to preserve the white majority in the US. History will judge him and those who agree with his cruel policy changes harshly.
Ben Lieberman (Massachusetts)
Part of a shameful campaign against all forms of immigration that also breaches basic acceptance and protection of human rights.
LegalEagle (Las Vegas)
Asylum is typically for people in a protected class seeking protection due to the imminent threat of harm based on their class (Tibetan monks from Communist China, former spies from Russia, relatives of Kim Jung Un, Christians from Iran, etc.). Poverty or escape from general crime (gangs, drugs, etc.) is not grounds for asylum. Those are reasons for immigration through the visa process.
Brian Barrett (New jersey)
The poor alas will always be with us. This article begins the process of describing the problems.I am sure that there are other contributing aspects: drugs, corporate economic exploitation, corrupt governments, cultural machismo, etc etc. All of these factors and others have as an end result the humanity that presents itself at our borders. They are the victims of a truly "rigged" system. We must find a humane way to accept these victims because that is the right thing to do. At the same time, we must address the root causes because to ignore them is simply impractical. The system can generate victims much more rapidly than they can be humanely assimilated. The Trump-Sessions approach is typically simplistic and cruel. Since it addresses only the immediate and visible situation, it has appeal to his primordial xenophobic base. It does nothing to alleviate the real problems and so women and children will be abused and killed. Americans won't see them since they will be dying in their "indigenous" areas. I recognize that even the United States is limited in resources and that there are people in this country suffering and in need but the Trump administration has shown its utter disdain for them as well. This Presidency has bragged about wanting to repeal Obamacare and gutting Medicaid. This policy is destructive of the soul of our great Democracy.
Karekin (USA)
This is insane. What are they going to do next, return the Statue of Liberty to France? Then again, if we don't really stand for liberty and freedom for all, it might make sense.
George S (New York, NY)
@Karekin. Even on the heyday of Ellis Island and the origins of the Statue, immigration was not unfettered and many people were turned away. It’s one thing to have a principle but it has to be tempered with reality. If you donate to charity, for example, do you give away 100% of your income? 50%? 25%? At some point do you not say, “I wish I could give more but I have to take care of my family first.”? Are you being hateful, racist, shameful, or just realistic?
Mon Ray (Cambridge)
Granting asylum due to documented persecution is one thing, but doing so for spousal abuse or the presence of gang violence in the country of origin would open our doors to hundreds of millions of people, perhaps even a billion. The US is not, nor can it afford to be, the savior of everyone in the world who lives in poverty. No country has open borders, and ours certainly should not, either. Most Americans welcome legal immigrants, but not illegals. US laws allow foreigners (aliens) to seek entry and citizenship. Those who do not follow these laws are in this country illegally (i.e., illegal aliens) and should be detained and deported, as is policy in other countries, too. We cannot support our own citizens: the poor, the ill, elderly, disabled, veterans, et al. It is thus utterly impossible for US taxpayers to support the hundreds of millions of foreigners who would like to come here. The cruelty lies not in detaining and deporting illegal aliens, or separating children from parents who have broken our laws. What is cruel, unethical and probably illegal is encouraging parents to bring their children on the dangerous trek to US borders and teaching adults how to game the system to enter the US by falsely claiming asylum, persecution, abuse, etc. Abolishing ICE makes sense only to advocates of open borders, a policy no nation will ever accept. If open borders is made a plank of the Democratic Party we are doomed to lose the midterm and 2020 elections.
Sam (Texas)
Long overdue! Otherwise, we will be full of economic refugees seeking asylum. Hard working Americans need support form our politicians. Unfortunately, Democratic Party is for open borders and illegal immigrants. Do they have any policy to help Americans, yes hard working Americans?
Michael (Morris Township, NJ)
Consider: a woman from Islip journeys to Oslo and requests asylum because her husband abuses her; how do you think Norway would handle that? Or a victim of LA’s notorious gangs seeks haven in Copenhagen. He’d be laughed right onto the next plane. If someone in Guatemala is a crime victim and needs to relocate, she should go to the next town. Or the next county. Perhaps the next country. Why is it ALWAYS here? If a CA gang could get her in Mexico, it can just as easily get her in AZ – or even in NYC – over the porous border which the left refuses to defend. If one can make a legitimate claim of governmental oppression, one can properly seek asylum. If one is coming from CA, that claim can be made in Mexico. Or Costa Rica. (Which provokes the question: why not make that claim to the countries nearby rather than one 1500 miles away?) And it can be address in due course. Let’s be clear: there might be a few thousand gang members. They did not create 700,000 victims, nor hundreds of thousands more every year. EVERY prospective immigrant tells the same, well-rehearsed story. They bring kids with them as human shields against deportation or detention. We are being played. It’s long past time to end this. Borders are important and we have no need for any more unskilled immigrants. Not one of the people you highlight should have been admitted. They should stay home and fight to make their own countries better places to live. Someone has to.
Marie (Boston)
“Asylum is for people fleeing persecution" Persecution: The act or practice of persecuting on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs that differ from those of the persecutor. Persecute: To oppress or harass with ill treatment, especially because of religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs. Maybe the Obama administrations dictionary is different and more narrowly defined than the American Heritage Dictionary? I'd say that those who are in danger of their lives certainly are being oppress or harassed with will treatment with beliefs that are different from those who wish to kill them. Funny too, in that the Trump wants to eliminate any use of race, religion (unless it is persecution of Christians), gender, sexual orientation as any grounds for discrimination or equal rights.
Marie (Boston)
that was supposed to be the Trump administration's dictionary in the comment above. I guess I was looking at another comment that mentioned Obama as I was typing my comment here. Or what ever excuse Trump would use to cover a mistake. :-)
Paul (Brooklyn)
As a progressive, here is an area where the republicans are half right albeit demagoguing the issue. If the Congress is too busy demagoguing the issues on both sides of the aisle instead of solving the problem continuation of what we have done in the modern era is the way to go. Continue moderate immigration, mostly illegal since nobody wants to wait 20 yrs to get here, don't go after illegals that have been here many yrs. and very productive. Look to weed out terrorists, criminals, abusers of the system ie outright liars that want to get in. Establishment democrats and republicans ignored the issue. Republicans turned a blind eye to it, since they love illegals that work as slaves in this country instead of getting minimum wage etc. Democrats want to open the floodgates and give benefits to anybody that comes in. Trump, the ever present demagogue took advantage of it.
Qcell (Hawaii)
Our Nation's generous and compassionate policy has been ruined by those seeking to exploit it for financial gain (human smugglers, organized crime, traffickers) and political gain (politicians and activist of both parties).
R. R. (NY, USA)
The US first priority should be to those here legally.
Working Mama (New York City)
The grounds for asylum are statutory, and U.S. statutes on this are based upon the UN Convention on Refugees, to which most of the world's nations are signatories. The law, contained in INA sec. 208 and related federal regulations, has been largely unchanged for decades. I sincerely doubt that this administration will be able to muster Congress to enact material changes to the Immigration and Nationality Act any time soon.
William Case (United States)
. A fear of gang violence, spousal abuses or poverty does not qualify a person for asylum under U.S. asylum law. To be eligible for asylum in the United States, an applicant must meet the definition of refugee in the Immigration and Nationality Act. The act defines refugee as: “Any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”
skeptic (New York)
@Working Mama. You are correct but also leaving out the important part of the story. NOWHERE in the Convention or statute are the grounds of domestic violence or gang violence listed as acceptable criteria for asylum. That has been invented by previous administrations without Congressional approval and can be removed, just as Trump abrogated Obama's Iran deal and the Paris Climate accord.
liberty (NYC)
does the statute include the words "domestic violence" or "gangs"?
Hellen (NJ)
Let's be clear about what was going on in the 80s. Accepting of illegal immigrants and granting amnesty was all part of President Reagan's agenda of a backlash against hard won civil and labor rights. He knew massive illegal labor, increased visa workers, outsourcing and busting unions would destroy not only American labor but decrease the economic opportunities of marginalized Americans. The real tragedy is that the democrats betrayed their loyal base and went along. Now the anger has built up and many of those Americans are fighting back. That's how we got Trump. That's how Trump will be reelected if the democrats put forth another open borders candidate.
LB (Florida)
@Hellen Well said. I am a Democrat who (reluctantly) voted for Hillary. I am tired of the Democratic Party's fixation on endless immigration. A lot is never enough. Immigration should serve the national interest...not merely the interests of ethnic lobbies and corporations and employers who want endless streams of cheap, compliant labor. The Democrats prioritize immigrants over citizens. But for now, the US is a nation with borders. Wish the Democrats understood that. If they don't they will continue to lose.
george eliot (Connecticut)
I'm so glad to hear someone articulating that in the NYT website, despite the risk of being labeled politically incorrect or worse. Dems need to stop bragging about how the demographics are in their favor; it's divisive, it's out of tune with alot of voters' views, including those who are relatively recent immigrants.
Phil (Brentwood)
@Hellen I don't know that allowing immigrants in was part of a plot by President Reagan, but I agree with the effects you've described. From FDR through Carter, the Democrats were the party of working-class people and labor unions. In more recent decades, the Democrats have shifted away from working-class people and focused on minorities, women, and -- more recently -- LGBTQ. Hillary lost because she forgot about the working-class and unions and went hard into identity politics. Most recently, Democrats have moved even further left with the Democrat-Socialist movement that's toxic to the traditional Democrat base.
Phyllis North (Burlington,, VT)
The situation in these failed Central American states is horrible, and the US has played a role in causing these conditions. I think we should vastly increase our foreign and military aid to these countries to see if we can reduce the violence and boost the economy. If that happened, there would be far fewer migrants from the countries seeking asylum in the U.S. Personally, I would rather see us invest our resources in Central America than in the perpetual wars of the Middle East.
Margo Channing (NYC)
@Phyllis North The US is not the only country who had a hand in meddling in these countries but how long ago did these things happen? We give financial aid to every single Latin and South American country it's time these countries took responsibility for their own people. Once and for all.
Charles (USA)
@Phyllis North - a big part of the reason for the North American Free Trade Act and the Central American Free Trade Act was to help improve economic conditions including more jobs in Mexico and Central America. It helped while sending jobs from the USA to those countries (one could argue that if those jobs hadn't moved there they would have moved to China and elsewhere in Asia anyway).
GRH (New England)
@Phyllis North, good point but unfortunately those of us who mistakenly voted Democrat for years were forced to learn the hard way that the Democrats love the perpetual wars of the Middle East just as much as anyone. We voted for Obama twice and what did he deliver? The shameful distinction of longest wartime president in US history, having continued the budget-busting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan his entire 8 years. Hillary Clinton voted to authorize Iraq War. She claimed to learn from this "mistake" when she saw public opinion going the other way, but then doubled and tripled down on it by working with Obama to destroy Libya and to funnel weapons and more to CIA-funded rebels in Syria. Even Bernie Sanders, yes, right there in Burlington, VT, talks the talk but walks the military industrial walk whenever he has a chance to do more than just talk. His support of Lockheed's F-35 fighter jet and its newly expanded "not suitable for residential use" zone to destroy health and home values of thousands and thousands in South Burlington, parts of Burlington, parts of Williston and nearly all of Winooski is unconscionable. When this is what the Democrats have to offer as being "different" from Republicans, don't be surprised when people like Republican governor Phil Scott (or Donald Trump, for that matter) get elected.
Al (Idaho)
The world is a scary, dangerous place. There are 100s of millions of unhappy, endangered, domestic violence victims, unemployed people, from over crowded, countries around the planet (many places in the u.s. have these same conditions). Are we to take them all in? If not, which ones and who gets left behind and at what point does this process overwhelm the u.s. and the west? What is the end game? These countries, by and large, have exploding populations with no end in sight. does that mean we are to take in millions, forever? Clearly, there is great deal of suffering and unhappiness in the world. It is also clear that moving all these people to the west is not only impractical but fruitless in the end as the supply is limitless. We can help these people solve there problems at home and we should, even though it will be expensive and a long process. Turning the u.s., with 325 million current residents, into the repository of all these people is not a viable option anymore. The world has changed. It is time to change the laws regarding immigration and asylum.
Jim (Cascadia)
Sure I’ll support anyone to come in. Let’s all of us cut our income completely to fund a program that funnels all income and redistribute that wealth to all. Maybe while we’re at it might as well as remove all cultural borders and combine all international wealth and do the same.
Felice Robinson (Washington DC)
John (London)
Whatever one's views on immigration, "Closed for business" is an appalling title for an article about asylum seekers. Refugees fleeing for their lives are (and should be) in a different category from immigrants (legal or illegal) whose primary motive is economic gain. Maybe the US needs immigrants who bring "business" (that is another argument), but they should not be following the same process as asylum seekers. The title of this piece betrays a complete lack of understanding of the issues.
Yulia Berkovitz (NYC)
@John the title is indeed (albeit unwittingly on this lib paper’s part) correct: immigrating to the US as a refugee is a big business. I know many so-called refugees (I also do know real ones, in all fairness, 2 are workin for me): they get a lot of hints for free (housing, education, even higher ed, transportation, food. I do not begrage, just state the fact: a lot of middle-clas Americans, who are paying for it they taxes, would go a long way to get these types of freebies in such quantities. Think of it: we treat our own worse then refugees economically. How s that OK, tell us?
Hellen (NJ)
No, it's sending a message that the system will no longer be abused. Asylums use to be rarely granted for extremes reasons and that is how it should be. If we are going to grant asylum for bad economic conditions, crime due to violent gangs and domestic abuse then we need to start granting asylum to Americans first. They can get relocated to better communities . There are many Americans who would like to escape such conditions. In fact many Americans are still trying to recover from devastation in their lives and yet they aren't demanding asylum in another country, like Switzerland, with better benefits. There is a story about a young man named Walter Carr whose family is still trying to recover from Katrina and he walked miles just to be make it to a job. Millions of Americans like him and yes they WILL do the jobs illegal immigrants do. Not only has the system been abused by those seeking asylum but also by groups making money off government grants for supposedly helping them. It's become a scam and it needs to be curtailed.
Through A Glass Darkly (USA)
What do we as the inheritors of the Western colonial push into the Americas owe the indigenous people of today? The answer to that question is how the immigration problem needs to be addressed. The residual effects of slavery are of the same category. If, on the one hand, people agree with the idea that these events happened a long time ago therefore we bear no responsibility then they place themselves in the Trump, Miller, Bannon, and Sessions camp. If, on the other hand, people connect the cause of genocide and enslavement to the effect of dysfunction and poverty experienced by the descendants of the persecuted then they are in the camp of reparations through redistribution. Build a wall or make the living conditions of the disenfranchised better where they live, whether inside the country or not. These are two simple choices that both involve large amounts of money. How the question is decided will determine on which side of history our country will be viewed. Our past efforts in Mexico, Central and South America are fraught with mistakes with which we must now come to grips. Our supreme power enabled a lot of bad behavior and now our ability to use that power is in question as our international standing continues to erode. My hope is that we have exhausted all the wrong things to do and will finally do the right thing before it is no longer within our reach.
Margo Channing (NYC)
@Through A Glass Darkly We send billions on an annual basis to every single Latin and South American country. Supposedly to make the lives of the people who live there better. The US is not responsible for the plight of every single citizen of said countries. That is the responsibility of the leaders there. We are slowly becoming a banana republic.
Through A Glass Darkly (USA)
@Margo Channing: after checking the facts, less than 1 billion went to all of Central America in 2017. How much for that Wall? 20 billion estimated. Nice try.
ChristineMcM (Massachusetts)
"Mr. Trump has taken monumental steps to shrink the asylum system and discourage people from applying based on a belief that the United States is taking in too many foreigners." Like so many of his policy "changes," this resentful president makes decisions based on his "gut" feeling something is true. Facts and figures don't figure in his decision making--only appeasing his base and acting on his prejudicial instincts do. I'm sure the asylum laws need to be updated, but to eliminate them entirely makes a mockery of this country's history and values. I would imagine a high proportion of Americans have their own immigration success story to tell. Our nation's history of generosity in addressing human need is something to be proud of, not fearful of. While we here who comment and the media in general focus on Trump's latest outrageous words and behavior, his transformation of our immigration system from kindness to cruelty goes largely unexamined. Thank you NYT for continuing to report on all the ways this administration is destroying the fabric of our social compacts.
Jim (Cascadia)
Have you noted that the majority of readers of this paper seem to recommend the comments that really reflect their concern of their own wealth? Thanks for your comments.
Projunior (Tulsa)
@ChristineMcM "While we here who comment and the media in general focus on Trump's latest outrageous words and behavior, his transformation of our immigration system from kindness to cruelty goes largely unexamined." Perhaps you have been too busy commenting to notice that the NYT publishes a new powder puff sob-story about the plight of illegal immigrants with predictable and wearisome frequency. There has been a 1,700 percent increase in asylum claims over the last 10 years. Should we just let this continue unabated?
Yulia Berkovitz (NYC)
My oldest grandson, Ibrahim, was born in Palestine, in horrid conditions (it just happened to coincide w/ an Israeli air strike). Why,do you ask, if he was born of an American father (my son) and a Palestinian wife of his? Because they played by the rules: my son and daughter-in-law applied for her entry visa as a newly-minted wife of an American citizen. it took INS 17 months to process. Yes, were he bent on breaking the law, he could have brought her in on a tourist visa, declaring no intent to stay (which would have been a lie) much sooner. Bottom line: the system is broken, it punishes the honest and rewards the crooks. If the NYT calls asylum seekers "businessmen", and seeking asylum a "business", then I am all for America being closed for it.
Margo Channing (NYC)
@Yulia Berkovitz, It's a slap in the face to those who apparently know how to follow the law. I commend your daughter in law for doing the right thing. There is a certain segment of our society that condones breaking our laws.
Greenie (Vermont)
We cannot take everyone from every country that is experiencing problems. The idea of taking refugees was that we would rescue those fleeing genocide such as was experienced in the Holocaust, or those who are political refugees, who have opposed a dictator and are fleeing. The notion of taking in those fleeing domestic abuse, gangs, etc is a refugee policy out of control. Here in the US we have plenty of domestic violence and gangs; does that mean Canada or New Zealand is supposed to take US citizens with an abusive husband or gang issues? It's not that I don't sympathize with their plight but this is out of control. And as for the family portrayed in the article, given that the man's son has continued to live for 3 decades in Guatemala and has a 15 year old daughter, just how dangerous has it really been there? Move to another part of Guatemala if your neighborhood is bad. No different than here in the US where we have dangerous neighborhoods and safer ones. Seriously, do we expect Canada to take all of the residents of the South Side of Chicago?
iRail (Washington DC)
Build the wall and man the towers but include many entry gates to process those who wish to come to America.
David T (Bridgeport, CT)
We have truly become a cruel nation, with no sense of empathy for others. Our nation was built by people just like those in this story, fleeing unbearable living conditions in their previous countries to seek a better life in the US. We are a better nation because of it. The current president and his supporters don't even view refugees and immigrants as people, calling them "illegals", "animals" and worse. In reading the quotes within the stories and reader comments, it is difficult not to see this animosity as racism, either thinly veiled or just explicit. We are better than this.
John (London)
@David T With respect, your phrases "unbearable living conditions" and "better lives" blur an important distinction between economic refugees and genuine asylum seekers fleeing persecution. It is not "cruel" for a country to want to limit or control the number of immigrants seeking to improve their economic lot. Refugees fleeing for their lives are another category entirely. Both the right and the left routinely elide this distinction.
Pepperman (Philadelphia)
It is indeed a very sad and poor situation in Central America. It is much unlike refugees in Myanmar where thousands have been uprooted and are now living in tents being persecuted by their own government. Most of the instances given in the article are victims of governments targeting groups because of ethnic or religious reasons. Most Central Americans crossing the border are leaving to escape poverty and corrupt governments. Domestic abuse sadly happens in the US as much as Central America. We have an immigration system that accepts applicants from every country. Mass migrations from neighboring countries looking for better opportunities is not the same as refuge faced with forced persecuation.
Hellen (NJ)
@Pepperman There are groups in this country targeted by government forces, such as the police. Do you think they can they get automatic asylum in countries like Switzerland?
Pepperman (Philadelphia)
Americans are free to travel most anywhere in the world without a visa. Of course Switzerland will accept Americans that would want to remain as refugees.
Neil (Texas)
I share sentiments expressed below about a system out of control. It is clear that these illegals are well briefed on how our immigration laws are enforced or more importantly not enforced. The domestic violence excuse and a surge in applicants for asylum is a case in point. The NYT reported the other day that these illegals bring children along because they know that our government cannot deport them without a lengthy process. While immigration has been good and is good for America - it's the legal system we have wherein we admit more than a million per year. So, when this system is abused or thwarted - something has to be done. And it appears this administration is doing something.
Mgaudet (Louisiana )
@Neil It is not a sytem out of control. In April 2017 there were 10500 applicants for asylum. In April of this year there were 6900, a decrease of about 1/3 or a yearly rate of 84000.
Tom ,Retired Florida Junkman (Florida)
Thank goodness, our national nightmare is coming to an end, the entire population of the country is changing far too fast for me. I walk through cities and feel as though I am the foreigner . Enough already !
A physician (New Haven)
@Tom ,Retired Florida Junkman I teach at an Ivy League medical school. In my last electrocardiography class I would estimate that only 20% of the students look like they were descendants of people who came over on the Mayflower. The students are great. Years ago, traveling on a subway under Moscow, I couldn't help but notice the uniformity of the features of the other people in my car, compared to what I'd experienced on the A train in Manhattan. Enjoy your retirement in Florida. I revel in our exceptional diversity.
profajm8m (Schenectady)
@Tom ,Retired Florida Junkman Cities and their suburbs are where the most dynamic economic growth in the U.S. is happening, and it's thanks in part to immigrants. Hardly a "national nightmare."
Kate (NYC)
@A physician You didn't explain why "exceptional diversity" is a good thing. You just said it's better...for some reason. People are all fundamentally equal, so what does having "diversity" add to anything? Why is cultural uniformity such a bad thing?
liberty (NYC)
Is crossing the border illegally now known as "crossing the border without papers"? The US cannot take in everyone who is a victim of crime, whether domestic violence or gang violence.
Tournachonadar (Illiana)
@liberty Indeed, soon we will have a population of five, seven hundred million more, none of whom speak our language or share our values. Unless we shut the door. And keep it shut by enforcing Title 8, United States Code. Enough already.
DiplomatBob (Overseas)
We know the asylum system is being used and abused by people trying to better their lives. Not only do we have direct data from asking people in the Northern Triangle, we know coyotes (and liberal immigration groups/lawyers) are coaching people on what to say. Many of the people from the Northern Triangle are trying to join their (illegal generally) family members in the U.S. If people were truly fleeing for their lives, why would they not go to Costa Rica, or Panama, or until recently, Nicaragua, which are vastly closer, easier to get to, and with similar cultures? Because it's about what they think they can get/do in the U.S. The NYT never seems to discuss the millions of people who wait, in another not very good system that imports poverty and discourages educated immigrants, to come legally. I work in the system. It needs lots of work. But the asylum system is not designed to be a backdoor way to get into the USA. And that how it is being used, and it's depressing to watch the NYT and others elide much of what's wrong, or bury the lede. If you wonder why "Fake News" reasonates with so many people, it's because it's so often clear that your reporters are framing articles, especially on immigration, with a specific lens, and either lack much actual knowledge, or are adverse to searching it out. This does not help our democracy.
c m (south carolina)
@DiplomatBob Best comment here. There are many "nuanced "problems with the immigration system. Second point about the way NYT is framing these issues is very valid and agree that it does not help our democracy.
Mary Mac (New jersey)
Central Americans are fleeing drug gang violence. We are the drug users, but refuse to protect the victims of drug cartels. We should help strengthen these countries and accept a limited number of refugees. Immigrants add to GDP growth in this country. Without immigration we would be like Japan, with a shrinking population. We need hard working unskilled labor. Studies show that central american immigrants put wage pressure on high school drop outs, and not on high school graduates.
AR Clayboy (Scottsdale, AZ)
There is a fundamental underlying truth buried within this article. The author candidly admits: "[t]heir afflictions — gang violence, domestic brutality and poverty — are neither American national security priorities nor anything that was originally intended to be covered under the laws of asylum." The simple fact is that the asylum process is being perverted by the open borders crowd and the army of lawyers and international organizations seeking to break the US immigration system. Their goal is to turn asylum into a free pass for legal entry. If you can claim asylum simply because your home country has a poor economy or that there are violent criminals in your neighborhood, virtually all of Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean would be ENTITLED to asylum here. The fake argument here is that the US must have lax immigration enforcement because our existing system of legal immigration system is too restrictive and punitive. If we are a nation of laws, our existing laws must be honored as the law of the land. Congress cannot act because too many Americans do not wish do not wish to import more poverty, crime and domestic violence onto their doorsteps. People who disagree are free to press for reform, but that advocacy should not impede or pervert the enforcement of our existing laws. Like it or not, Sessions is correct to limit asylum claims to cases of true governmental persecution, as the law was written.
anwesend (New Orleans)
The Statue of Liberty is often invoked, concerning the welcoming of mass immigration (and asylum) in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! " The rest of this seems to have been omitted: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…..and I will stuff them into factories to work 80 hour weeks, along with their children. The rest we’ll pack off to the army or use to help colonize our frontiers recently won from the Natives” The welcoming of mass immigration was not an altruistic ideal, rather a means of fueling massive U.S. industrial, military, and colonial expansion. Are these imperatives still relevant, what with automated (and offshored) factories, high-tech military, and a continent already densely settled?
Alicia Peterson (Albuquerque)
Hard hearted and inhumane. Desperate people that need our help. The change in policy for family violence cases is anti-woman and Trump sends the message to Central America that we don't care about women and men should go ahead and feel free to keep up their abuses. The same message is sent to the cartels, keep it up, we will send your victims back to you, with our tacit approval. This is a big country and we have a lot of wealth. We are failing our moral obligations, that is fine with half of the country. America may never be great again.
Alicia Peterson (Albuquerque)
@George S The previous Legal standing requirements were not easy for asylum seekers but Jeff Sessions recently made them more narrow. I would like to see a return to our previous policy of allowing asylum seekers to attempt to claim asylum for severe domestic violence and death threats. It is not limited to any hemisphere. Of course there are limits but what we have now is nothing.
George S (New York, NY)
@Alicia Peterson. So to be clear, should we know open our borders to any woman from anywhere in the world who is either abused or lives in a country with anti-woman biases and restrictions? Why just limit it to this hemisphere for no doubt that are other regions of the world where conditions are at least as bad, if not worse! Yes, we’re a “big country and we have a lot of wealth”, but can’t we try to help those nations improve without becoming their de facto extension? Is there no limit whatsoever?
Alicia Peterson (Albuquerque)
@Honor senior I agree wholeheartedly that we have an obligation to our neighbors but when we create the situations in Central America that foster violent men to kill others by buying their drugs and selling them arms, we also have a responsibility to the victims of our atrocious vices.
I want another option (America)
"He was prosecuted and jailed for crossing the border without papers. " i.e. He tried to entered the US illegally and only bothered to claim asylum after he was caught. I have zero sympathy for people in this situation. It's nonsense like this that continue to make President Trump look like the lesser of two evils when compared to Democrats. I'm all for making it easier for people to come here legally, assimilate, work hard, and make a better life for themselves. However, I am beyond tired of the Left demagoguing the plight of people who came here illegally while Democrats to make any compromises required to change our immigration laws .(e.g. more merit based and less welfare)
Gusting (Ny)
They came seeking asylum to the points of entry, but under zero tolerance were charged and prosecuted as entering without papers anyway.
Crusader Rabbit (Tucson, AZ)
It is hard to argue that the US is not turning its back on the world’s destitute and needy. We should admit more immigrants to this country in a controlled and orderly manner. But logically, legally and philosophically the definition of “asylum” cannot be an open-ended invitation to every aggrieved third world resident. We would effectively be granting asylum to several billion people around the world. The luck involved in one’s national birthplace is very unfair but so be it. Did I mention that an overly broad definition of asylum would be political suicide for the Democratic Party?
WillT26 (Durham, NC)
There are entire industries of 'advocates' in the US who spend all of their time helping illegal economic migrants game the system. Our asylum system has been abused for decades. Illegal economic migrants are coached on exactly what to say and how to say it. Citizens in this country support asylum policies that protect people being persecuted by their government- not on policies that grant asylum to women who have bad relationships or to people who are afraid of crime. I applaud the change in rules that will take us back to the traditional grounds for asylum. No one, who is afraid of crime or domestic violence, should be coming to the US- we have plenty of both. People need to fix their own countries.
Marcos Campos (New York)
@WillT26 Recognize at minimum that the U.S. has perpetuated social ills in many of these countries with a demand for illegal drugs that continues to be pervasive in our own society. It is also not helpful that in exchange for drugs, we sell drug cartels operative in their countries tons of firearms that are used to threaten and kill large numbers of people. Try to view the world in shades of grey, not black and white. U.S. - always good, Latin American countries - bad.
Michael Tyndall (SF)
Each asylum case needs to be judged on its own merits. Demographically, we do need a certain quota of young, low skilled laborers. But it's also important to recognize the world is deteriorating in many places for many reasons different from the circumstances immediately after WWII. Certain governments are corrupt or oppressive or ineffective or indifferent to the needs of their people. In most places the wealth gap is widening or already desperately out of balance. Of course we can ignore those issues and simply place higher barriers to those in need. It's not the Christian or Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist thing to do, but we can do it. We can ignore our history of political interference in many of these countries. We can ignore blatant examples of bad governance. We can ignore our massive consumption of illegal drugs and its role in the rise of gangs and lawlessness. We can ignore continued overpopulation. We can ignore the role of a changing climate. We can ignore the role of Russia (and just about everyone else including not a few of our 'allies') in destabilizing the Middle East. And we can offer false narratives to our own citizens about the criminal and economic effects of immigration. Or we can roll up our sleeves, stop the scapegoating, and craft a bipartisan multi-prong solution that works to solve these problems with appropriate compassion and practicality. It won't go away if we ignore it. It won't even stay just the same. It will only get worse.
Barbara (SC)
Sessions, possibly trying to appease Trump for his recusal on the Mueller investigation, embarrasses me. Other than Native Americans, we are a country of immigrants. Some have been here longer, some less. Most were seeking either economic well-being or fleeing terror of some sort. My family has been here only about 120 years. They fled conscription and pogroms in Russia before the revolution in 1917. One grandfather was sent here as a 12 year old, without his parents. Those who have not lived with persecution or stories of persecution in their own family may find this difficult to understand, but most people don't flee their country on a whim. These are frightened people, seeking refuge. Just as our forefathers, they are trying to live in freedom from fear, among other things. I cannot help but think that if their skins were not brown, Trump and Sessions would take a different approach.
Enough Already (USA)
@Barbara I am not an immigrant. I was born here. Merely because someone might make more money here does not give them the right to come. When people travel through Mexico -- a country where they speak the language and share a culture -- they are not frighted people. They are opportunists and can stay there.
Edish (NYC)
@Barbara My father, 3 brothers and a sister, and their mother fled Russia and the same horrors you describe in 1922. They became highly productive Americans and with many other similar refugees contributed to America. My father served in WW2 and earned a purple heart. Donald Trump mean-spirited policies insult my family and yours and make the US seem to be an unreceptive, cold-hearted nation. We have problems with immigration that will not be solved by these mindless "solutions".
mike (nola)
@Barbara My grandfather came from Norway in 1900, in the hold of a ship using the papers of a friend who came down with TB while waiting for his ship to leave for the U.S. His situation was different than yours. His family had 13 children that lived beyond the age of 1. He was the oldest and there was no work for anyone in that area, and those who had jobs were fighting to keep them. There was no economic opportunity at all. His original destination was Australia, when the opportunity to come here presented itself he came here. was he wrong to do so? since he wasn't brown the current crop of racists running our government would not think so, but technically he was wrong. He built a business here, consistently employed over 500 people even during the depression and both World Wars, and paid his taxes happily. he was also a Republican which at that time meant a completely different thing than it does today. He finally died at 102. He had never been formally naturalized. Your family history was of greater suffering in many ways, but to my grandfather, the inability to work and eat consistently was just as great for him and others like him. Trump and Sessions need to be horsewhipped and every time they speak of God they need to be called the liars they are.