Trump administration blocks asylum claims by those crossing border illegally

Trump administration blocks asylum claims by those crossing border illegally

"US law is crystal clear that asylum seekers have the right to lodge asylum claims regardless of where they enter the country, and President Trump can not change the law on a whim", said Bill Frelick, Refugee Rights director at Human Rights Watch.

Officials said once the plan came into full effect, migrants entering at the USA southern border would only be eligible for asylum if they reported at official ports of entry. "Since 2017, Amnesty has documented that thousands of people already wait for weeks on end at the ports of entry, and others have been wrongfully turned away by US border officials as they attempt to seek protection".

Currently, U.S. asylum rules do not bar people who enter the country without authorization, and the Immigration and Nationality Act, which governs the U.S. immigration system, specifically allows people who arrive in the United States, whether or not they do so at a designated port of entry, to apply for asylum.

"This interim regulation is not only inconsistent with the letter of the law, but flatly contradicts it", Frelick said.

In remarks, last week at the White House, Trump announced he would pursue the rule change, suggesting without providing evidence that many migrants seek and receive asylum illegitimately. He will invoke the same powers he used to push through a version of the travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court, according to senior administration officials.

The regulation would largely affect migrants from Central America's Northern Triangle - Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador - who cross the United States border with Mexico to flee violence, including political persecution, and poverty in their home countries.

"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. Trump plans to issue the proclamation on Friday, an administration official who asked not to be identified told reporters in a briefing.

The new rule is nearly certain to be challenged in courts.

This is expected to put a dent in those streaming into an already overburdened system, officials said, noting that there is a backlog of more than 700,000 cases in the immigration courts. It's unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally. Criminalization of asylum seekers rather than compassion has created some of the most shameful policies I've ever witnessed in this country.

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.

Similar caravans have gathered regularly over the years and have generally dwindled by the time they reach the southern border.

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