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Third-Country Asylum Rule Piloted in RGV Only

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WESLACO - A new rule that will limit who can request asylum in the United States is being piloted in the Rio Grande Valley.

The statement was made by the acting head of Customs and Border Protection. 

It's known as the Third-Country Asylum Rule; it was just posted to the Federal Registry two days ago.

It's meant to be enforced along the whole southwest border, but will get its start in the Valley. 

The Department of Justice and Homeland Security created this rule that enhances asylum eligibility.

It will require asylum seekers heading to the U.S. to first request asylum from other countries they pass through.

For example, Central Americans would be required to request asylum in Mexico before requesting it in the United States. 

Mark Morgan, the acting head of CBP, said during NPR's All Things Considered the agency is piloting the program in the Rio Grande Valley.

"You got to remember, when a new policy like this is going to happen, although the new federal regulation allows us to apply that all 2,000 miles of southwest border. So, we're really piloting it in one location. That location is briefed. They know what to do and how to do that."

He said NPR they started the program in two Valley stations.

CBP sent CHANNEL FIVE NEWS a statement that briefly reads: 

“The IFR (Interim Final Rule) speaks to asylum eligibility and applies to all amenable individuals. My statement refers to a focus of resources in the Rio Grande Valley region,” said Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan.

The rule has exceptions.

A migrant can request asylum in the United States if they were denied asylum in the countries they went through first, or can fit the definition of a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons, or if they came through a route that didn't include countries offering asylum. 

Two countering lawsuits filed in two states are expected to become one.

Morgan said they're expecting those legal challenges may delay the rule's expansion, for now.

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