Trump administration moves to restrict asylum claims by migrants

Trump administration rolls out hard-line immigration policy drastically restricting asylum access at Mexican border

The Trump administration has announced that people who enter the United States illegally will no longer be able to claim asylum.

The Trump administration ordered a key change in the immigration policies in relation to asylum seekers, and it will affect how migrants in the caravans heading to the USA could seek refugee status.

President Donald Trump is preparing issue a proclamation to assert the emergency powers, and the rule changes will be published Friday in the Federal Register, the officials said.

Currently, US asylum rules do not bar people who enter the country without authorisation, and the Immigration and Nationality Act, which governs the US 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.

'Today, we are using the authority granted to us by Congress to bar aliens who violate a Presidential suspension of entry or other restriction from asylum eligibility, ' they wrote.

Under US law, there is a legal obligation to hear asylum claims from migrants if they say they fear violence in their home countries.

Under the proposed rule changes, migrants who cross illegally would be ineligible for asylum, but they could still be spared from deportation by qualifying for a lesser status known as "withholding of removal".

Trump's proclamation puts into practice regulations adopted by immigration officials on Thursday.

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Until now asylum seekers have been entitled to a hearing in the USA regardless of how they arrived in the country. "If the president doesn't like what the law says, the way to address it is to get Congress to pass a new one".

"The proposal is patently unlawful and there will be a court challenge", said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree", he said.

Over 5,200 United States troops have been sent to the border to erect razor-wire fences and provide surveillance and logistical support to the National Guardsmen and Customs and Border Patrol agents already there.

Soaring numbers of migrants have entered the United States taking this administrative path in recent years, often crossing illegally to turn themselves in to US border agents.

Officials have turned away asylum seekers at border crossings because of overcrowding, telling them to return later.

Earlier efforts by the Trump administration to limit migration prompted a political and legal backlash.

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

The administration has also looked to end protections under programs in which tens of thousands of people from Honduras and El Salvador, who entered the country after hurricanes and earthquakes devastated their countries near the beginning of the century. Before the midterm elections, Trump mulled ending birthright citizenship - the policy that ensures all children born on usa soil are automatically citizens - by executive order.

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