President Trump expected to sign executive order on asylum system soon

Cheryl Sanders
November 9, 2018

The Trump administration said it would prohibit people who illegally cross the USA border with Mexico from claiming asylum, as the president seeks to choke off migration from Latin America.

The interim final rule to limit asylum proposed on November 8, 2018, by the Trump Administration is the latest attempt to shut American doors to people fleeing persecution and violence, Human Rights Watch said today.

Trump also suggested he'd revoke the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil and erect massive "tent cities" to detain migrants.

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 US illegally. "U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry". President Trump is expected to formally enact the rule in a presidential proclamation Friday.

The administration's plan, which invokes the same authority Mr 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".

"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", Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a joint statement.

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.

"U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry". The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA 208 (b)(2)(C)) unambiguously states that ineligibility grounds for asylum established by regulation must be "consistent with" section 208 of the INA, which explicitly says that aliens may lodge asylum claims "not at a designated port of entry".

Members of one of the migrant caravans riding on a truck in Donaji, Mexico, last week. A senior administration official said Thursday that the vast majority of such claims are "non-meritorious". It's unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally.

Administration officials argue the asylum system is abused by people who are not seeking security in the USA but are instead searching for economic opportunity or trying to reunite with family members.

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.

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