US Immigration Officials Move to Deny Asylum at Border 8 November 2018

Trump just announced a big change to immigration policy – and it will affect caravan migrants

Trump just announced a big change to immigration policy – and it will affect caravan migrants

The Trump administration unveiled new rules on Thursday to sharply limit migrant asylum claims by barring individuals who cross the US southern border illegally from seeking asylum.

President Donald Trump has blamed US asylum rules for luring thousands of migrants a year from Central American countries. "The US government should absolutely be encouraging the safe, orderly and efficient processing of asylum claims at ports of entry, but the way to do that is by providing sufficient resources to receive and process asylum seekers in a fair and humane manner".

Central American migrants, part of a caravan traveling to the US-Mexico border, walk on a road near Isla municipality, Veracruz, Mexico, Nov. 3, 2018.

Drawing on national security powers, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice issued a fast-track rule barring immigrants from seeking asylum if they first enter the USA illegally.

Immigrant advocates denounced the move, saying it violated existing US law that allows people fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries to apply for asylum regardless of whether they enter illegally or not. President Trump is expected to formally enact the rule in a presidential proclamation Friday.

Earlier efforts by the Trump administration to limit migration have prompted a political and legal backlash. "It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree", Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Rights Project, said.

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

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.

White House insiders admit that Donald Trump expects his administration will be sued over its latest immigration policy - but with Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, he expects to win those suits.

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. A senior administration official said Thursday that the vast majority of such claims are "non-meritorious".

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".

Those seeking asylum must be fleeing due to a serious fear of persecution.

"U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry". It's unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally. And in the last five years, the number of those requesting asylum has increased by 2,000 percent, it said.

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