Trump administration moves forward with asylum restrictions

Trump administration blocks asylum claims by those crossing border illegally

The Trump administration moved Thursday to order a sweeping new change meant to limit asylum claims by immigrants seeking to come to the U.S.

The regulations released, in conjunction with an order expected to be signed by President Donald Trump, would effectively ban migrants who cross the United States border with Mexico illegally from qualifying for asylum.

"US law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry".

In Fiscal Year 2018, almost 90 percent of Central American migrants who arrived at the border and claimed "credible fear" passed their initial asylum-seeking interview.

The move would largely affect migrants from Central America's Northern Triangle - Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador - who cross the USA border with Mexico to flee violence and poverty in their home countries. President Donald Trump has vowed to stop them from entering the country.

Officials would not offer any other specifics on the proclamation that Trump is expected to sign Friday.

The administration's plan, which invokes the same authority Trump used to justify his travel ban on citizens of several Muslim-majority nations, is likely to be quickly challenged in court. "It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree", said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, in a statement.

"Our asylum system is overwhelmed with too many meritless asylum claims from aliens who place a tremendous burden on our resources, preventing us from being able to expeditiously grant asylum to those who truly deserve it", said the joint statement. However, Trump's focus on the issue during campaigning for Tuesday's hotly contested midterm congressional elections was criticized as veering into immigrant-bashing and even racism.

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Trump has long said those seeking asylum should come through legal ports of entry.

Members of one of the migrant caravans riding on a truck in Donaji, Mexico, last week.

Two senior administration officials that spoke to NBC News said that "of the [immigration] measures most likely to be approved by the president, all were likely to lead to a lawsuit".

The president has declared immigrants are abusing America's generous asylum system, claiming the United States' asylum rules are the "biggest loophole drawing illegal aliens to our borders".

Less than 10 per cent of cases result in asylum being granted, the government says.

"Congress has directly spoken to this question as to whether individuals can be rendered ineligible for asylum if they cross between ports of entry and has specifically said people are eligible regardless of where they cross", said Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Migrants who show up at ports of entry demanding asylum would still be permitted.

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