AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

Tariffs Hurt Americans, Won’t Stop Asylum Seekers

5/31/19 AILA Doc. No. 19053133. Admissions & Border, Asylum
George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

Washington, DC - President Trump announced new tariffs would be imposed on Mexican imports to the United States, describing the tariffs as a way to control rising border apprehensions. A five percent tariff would begin June 10, going up over the following months to 25 percent in October and continuing at that percentage if insufficient efforts are made according to the president's determination. Leadership of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) responded with the following statement:

Anastasia Tonello, AILA President, stated, "With these tariffs, the administration is seeking to blame others for a situation rather than taking responsibility for its own role in creating this crisis. Punishing foreign country partners we need to work with, and harming the U.S. economy in the process, isn't the solution. If a tariff is implemented, American families and businesses will bear the burden given the nearly $350 billion in goods imported from Mexico last year. The administration's aimless approach to the border is neither improving our nation's immigration laws nor helping border security-it's damaging our shared prosperity and creating more chaos."

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson noted, "The president's own statement says 'Some of the most deadly and vicious gangs on the planet operate just across our border and terrorize innocent communities,' yet he is pushing people directly into that harm with the Remain in Mexico policy. He also said 'the cartels and coyotes are having a greater and greater impact on the Mexican side of our Southern Border…Billions of dollars are made, and countless lives are ruined, by these ruthless and merciless criminal organizations' and yet his focus is on punishing those fleeing these ruthless cartels? The Administration's strategy has only ramped up the turmoil and suffering at the border. Our nation needs solutions that restore order to the border region and improve the processing of migrants without sacrificing fundamental humanitarian values and damaging our economy."

Solutions AILA recommends include:

  • Deploy more trained USCIS asylum officers to conduct credible fear interviews so cases that are clearly ineligible can be separated quickly from those who have valid claims.
  • Allow asylum officers to conduct full asylum adjudications for border arrivals, which currently only immigration judges perform.
  • Restore judges' authority and independence to manage their dockets to increase immigration court efficiency; ultimately Congress will need to pass legislation creating an independent immigration court.
  • Provide lawyers to migrants, which immigration judges agree will increase efficiency.
  • Use alternatives to detention to ensure asylum seekers appear for hearings while reducing the exorbitant costs of detention. Alternatives to detention like the DHS Family Case Management Program have a near perfect - 99 percent - appearance rate.
  • Invest resources to improve conditions in Central American countries from which so many are fleeing persecution.
  • Set up processes so that asylum seekers can seek protection in their home country instead of traveling thousands of miles on a dangerous journey.