Illegal border crossers now ineligible for asylum, White House says

Illegal border crossers now ineligible for asylum, White House says

The Trump administration announced a new immigration rule Thursday that will block migrants from seeking asylum if they fail to cross the US border at an official port of entry.

The Trump administration indicated that the president would follow through on an order to limit asylum claims to those made at ports of entry.

Once the plan goes into full effect, migrants entering at the US southern border would be eligible for asylum only if they report at official ports of entry, officials said.

The rule, which is likely to be challenged in court by pro-immigration groups, was spurred in part by caravans of Central American migrants walking toward the border. About 4,800 migrants are sheltered in a sports complex in Mexico City, some 600 miles (965 kilometres) from the US border.

Immigrant advocates have denounced the move, saying it violated existing United States law that allows people fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries to apply for asylum regardless of whether they enter illegally or not.

Trump is expected to sign the order on Friday before leaving on a trip to Paris.

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".

"The biggest loophole drawing illegal aliens to our borders is the use of fraudulent or meritless asylum claims to gain entry into our great country", Mr. Trump said last week.

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The push comes after President Donald Trump railed during the final weeks of the campaign about "caravan after caravan" making its way to the border through Mexico.

He called a current caravan, which is still hundreds of miles from the United States border and dwindling in numbers, an "invasion" and said it would bring hardened criminals to USA streets.

A senior administration official said the restriction on asylum claims will seek to address the "historically unparalleled abuse of our immigration system".

Trump made immigration a key issue in Tuesday's election, stoking fear among his supporters about a migrant caravan that's still hundreds of miles away in Mexico. But the busy ports of entry already have long lines and waits, forcing immigration officials to tell some migrants to come back to make their claims.

In 2018, border patrols have registered more than 400,000 illegal border crossers, homeland security said.

That way, he said, courts will "handle those claims in an expeditious and efficient manner, so that those who do actually require an asylum protection get those protections".

In 2017, the US fielded more than 330,000 asylum claims, almost double the number two years earlier and surpassing Germany as highest in the world.

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