Harvard Law School’s Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program has released a report on the effects of President Trump’s executive orders on people seeking asylum protection in the United States under long-standing provisions of U.S. and international law, including refugee law and the Convention Against Torture.
In the wake of the executive orders, media attention has focused largely on the travel ban involving seven predominantly Muslim nations, but the impact of the orders on asylum seekers from around the world has received little attention.
A dozen Harvard Law students, part of the Harvard Immigration Project, have been working intensely over the past two weeks to help produce the report.
The authors of the report warn that President Trump’s executive orders will dramatically restrict access to asylum and other immigration protections in the United States, and will usher in a new regime of large-scale detention, expansion of expedited removal without due process, and deputizing of state and local officials to detain individuals on “mere suspicion” of immigration violations.
According to the report, the executive orders would lead to a massive expansion of immigration-related detention and the construction of new detention centers at the southern border to accommodate a much larger population of detainees. “It will take billions of dollars to accommodate this kind of mass incarceration,” said Professor Deborah Anker, head of the Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program at Harvard Law School. “In the meantime, the new policies allow any state and local enforcement official, not just trained federal agents, to pick people up on mere suspicion, detain them in any remote location, subject them to an ‘expedited removal’ process, where many if not most will be unable to express their fear of return and be screened for making refugee and torture protection claims.”