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DOJ’s Own Agency Cites Problems With Immigration Crackdown

Negative coverage of Pres. Trump's new limits on asylum seekers was spotlighted by an internal memo from the Executive Office of Immigration Review, headed by Director James McHenry, seen here testifying in July 2018 before the Senate Judiciary Committee.


(Image: Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.)

Although President Trump’s new crackdown on immigration asylum was approved by Attorney General William Barr, not everyone in the Justice Department appears keen on the policy. On Tuesday the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), issued an-agency wide memo spotlighting press reports on legal problems with Trump’s new policy, The Young Turks has learned.

The memo, a "morning briefing" sent Tuesday from EOIR’s public affairs office begins by citing two news articles detailing the legal problems with Trump’s new policy, which took effect Tuesday, to block nearly all asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border. The briefing, obtained exclusively by TYT, was provided by a Justice Department official who requested anonymity to avoid professional reprisal.

EOIR sends employees these briefings daily to keep them informed of relevant information, including news articles, though this one stood out for having led with articles so clearly questioning the legality of the new asylum policy.

“Even the [leadership] realizes it’s bonkers,” the Justice Department official said of the memo. “Trump has sent out new rule after rule, and the vast majority of these have been ruled unconstitutional or otherwise illegal or unenforceable.”

EOIR’s public affairs office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

EOIR’s director, James McHenry, was appointed to head the agency by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in January of 2018.

The new asylum policy is expected to end practically all asylum claims at the southern border by prohibiting migrants from applying for asylum if they have passed through a third country on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border. This would preclude almost all asylum claims except those of Mexicans.

Mexicans represent a significantly smaller proportion of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. than they used to, as more and more undocumented immigrants come from poorer Central American countries like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. In fact, beginning well before President Trump came into office, more Mexicans have been leaving the U.S. than arriving.

The memo obtained by TYT, titled “EOIR Morning Briefing,” begins by citing two news articles. The first article, “Judge voices doubt over halting Trump move to sharply cut asylum requests by Central Americans,” was published in The Washington Post on Monday. The second article, titled “Trump pushes on with immigration crackdown despite legal hurdles,” was also published on Monday in Reuters.

The memo begins by quoting an excerpt from the Post article: “A federal judge said Monday that President Trump’s move to sharply restrict asylum requests from people at the U.S.-Mexico border who are fleeing persecution may have violated a federal law that requires U.S. agencies to give 30 days’ public notice of rule changes, but he stopped short of saying he would halt the measure.”

The articles also note the lawsuits filed to challenge the new rule, including by the ACLU, RAICES, and the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition.

An Executive Office of Immigration Review memo Tuesday drew attention to press coverage of the legal woes Trump's new asylum policy is facing.

(Image: Photo of EOIR memo.)

Ken Klippenstein is a senior investigative reporter for TYT. He can be reached securely via Signal at 202-510-1268, on Twitter @kenklippenstein or via email: [email protected].

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