Advocates and lawyers are up in arms over the Trump administration’s latest attempt at restricting asylum at the United States’ southern border, according to a report from NBC News

President Donald Trump announced on Monday (July 15) that the federal government would take steps beginning Tuesday (July 16) to effectively end asylum protections for Central American migrant families. It will implement a new rule, according to statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) via NBC, that says “asylum-seekers at the southern border who pass through another country and do not seek asylum there will not be eligible for the protection in the U.S.”

The New York Times on what this change means:

Under the new rule, Hondurans and Salvadorans would have to apply for—and be denied—asylum in Guatemala or Mexico before they were eligible to apply for asylum in the United States. Guatemalans would have to apply for and be denied asylum in Mexico.

[…]

Many Africans, Cubans and Haitians who travel through Mexico to the southwestern border would also be barred from obtaining the protections.

Guatemala and Mexico have refused to go along with this plan, according to The Times, which means migrants could potentially be left with no options for seeking asylum in a safer environment. 

Keren Zwick, a litigator with the National Immigrant Justice Center,  told NBC that this new rule is the Trump administration’s “most egregious attack on the asylum system” to date. Charanya Krishnaswami, advocacy director for the Americas at Amnesty International, said this change threatens to “fundamentally eviscerate the right to territorial asylum in the United States.”

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project, told The Times saying this new rule “could not be more inconsistent with our domestic laws or international laws.”

Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told The Times that the new government regulation is “xenophobic and racist.” He added, “Plain and simple, this is the president lashing out in an attempt to keep those seeking safety out of the country.”

Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of DHS, released a statement to NBC defending the administration’s decision. “[The rule] will help reduce a major ‘pull’ factor driving irregular migration to the United States and enable DHS and [the Department of Justice] to more quickly and efficiently process cases originating from the southern border, leading to fewer individuals transiting through Mexico on a dangerous journey,” he said.

Per The Washington Post, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center and Center for Constitutional Rights filed suit against the government Tuesday in a challenge to the new policy.