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Vox Sentences: Raising the bar for asylum

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Trump moves to drastically restrict who can seek asylum; Turkey’s purchase of a Russian defense system could ruin the country’s relationship with the US.

Seeking asylum just got a whole lot harder

Eduardo Jaramillo Castro/AFP/Getty Images
  • A new Trump rule that goes into effect on Tuesday will effectively end asylum protections for most migrants at the southern border. [NYT / Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Elisabeth Malkin]
  • Asylum seekers who have already passed through another country before reaching the US will no longer be eligible to apply for asylum under the rule, which was introduced on Monday. [Washington Post / Nick Miroff and Seung Min Kim]
  • Migrants who go through a third country before heading to the US must first apply for asylum in that country –– and can only head to the US border if their request is denied. There are a few exceptions, such as victims of human trafficking. [NBC News / Daniella Silva, Julia Ainsley, Pete Williams, and Geoff Bennett]
  • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said such measures had to be made in order to quell the rising numbers of migrants at the southern border. US Attorney General William Barr also said the rule was necessary because current US asylum rules had been abused. [NPR / Bill Chappell]
  • Prior to the announcement of the new rule, Trump’s administration had attempted to negotiate a similar “Safe Third Country” agreement with Guatemala. The president of Guatemala, however, backed out of a Monday meeting with the White House on the issue after facing legal challenges to the agreement in his country. [NYT / Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Elisabeth Malkin]
  • Like Trump’s other immigration policies, the law will most likely face legal challenge in court. The ACLU has already signaled that it will sue the government for reversing “our country’s legal and moral commitment to protect those fleeing danger.” [Reuters / Daniel Trotta and Richard Cowan]
  • This is a huge departure from the US’s current asylum policy, which allows migrants to apply for asylum regardless of how they came to the border. (Technically there’s an exception for those who come from “safe” countries, but the law is vague on what actually counts as “safe”). [AP / Colleen Long]
  • In the past, Trump has attempted to slow the flow of migrants by requiring asylum seekers to pay an application fee and having them wait for the outcomes of their applications in Mexico. This new rule, however, would be the broadest policy introduced until now by effectively ending asylum at the southern border. [USA Today / David Jackson and Alan Gomez]

Turkey-US relationship sours over Russia

  • Turkey is risking its relationship with the US by buying a Russian-made air defense missile system. [Al Jazeera]
  • Despite threats from the US, Turkey finalized its $2 billion purchase of Russia’s sophisticated S-400 system. The US is mostly concerned that Russian engineers setting up the system in Turkey could spy on fighter jets that fly out of America’s Incirlik Air Base in the country. [Fox News / Brie Stimson]
  • Turkey claims it has the right to purchase its own defense system; until now, it only had the American-made Patriot system that was placed in the country by NATO. For years, Turkey attempted to buy the system from the US, and when Trump finally made an offer last year, they declined because they received a better offer from Russia. [WSJ / David Gauthier-Villars and Ann M. Simmons]
  • In response to the purchase, the Trump administration has blocked the delivery of its F-35 stealth fighter to Turkey and has suspended training of its pilots. The US has also threatened to impose harsh economic sanctions on Turkey, which would further escalate the souring of their relationship. [Reuters / Phil Stewart and Humeyra Pamuk]
  • Experts, however, think that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is willing to call Trump’s bluff because Turkey is too valuable an ally to lose due to its strategic position at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. [NBC News / Dan De Luce]
  • The dispute is putting a rift in the NATO alliance — which, ironically, was first organized to unite Western forces against the Soviets — and that just might be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal. Under Erdogan, Turkey has been criticized within NATO for trying to play both sides, and this purchase could further alienate the country from its allies. [NYT / Carlotta Gall]
  • The purchase also gives the world a glimpse at Turkey’s ambition. Erdogan wants to become an independent power that doesn’t need to be coddled by the US, even if it means risking decades of friendship between the two countries. [CNN / Tim Lister]


  • Alan Turing, one of the fathers of computer science and a code breaker in World War II, will be the new face of Britain’s new 50-pound note. [Washington Post / Karla Adam]
  • Monika Lewinsky had an epic answer when Twitter asked people about the worst career advice they’ve received: “an internship at the white house will be amazing on your resume.” [CNN / A.J. Willingham]
  • In hope of reviving its tourism industry, Egypt opened two of its oldest pyramids to tourists for the first time since 1965. Both structures date back to around 2600 BC. [AP]
  • Hundreds protested in Tel Aviv after Israel’s education minister advocated for gay conversion therapy. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the comments as “unacceptable.” [Newsweek / Daniel Avery]
  • Is there a way to develop a vaccine for depression, anxiety, and stress? Could bacteria improve emotional health? Why scientists think there’s a link between inflammation and mental health issues. [Vice / Shayla Love]


“The United States is a generous country but is being completely overwhelmed by the burdens associated with apprehending and processing hundreds of thousands of aliens along the southern border.” [US Attorney General William Barr on the latest immigration rule]

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