Trump Administration Moves to Curb Migrants' Asylum Claims

Trump Administration Moves to Curb Migrants' Asylum Claims

The administration issued a new policy Thursday that would give President Trump power to block asylum claims from the migrant caravan and other illegal immigrants who jump the U.S. -Mexico border.

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

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. They are now about 600 miles (965 kilometers) away.

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 sign an executive order this week on asylum reform. Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project, said they were clearly illegal.

"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", the agencies said. The military is expected to have the vast majority of the more than 7,000 troops planned for the mission deployed by Monday, and that number could grow. 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".

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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.

"What we are attempting to do is trying to funnel. asylum claims through the ports of entry where we are better resourced, have better capabilities and better manpower and staffing to actually handle those claims in an expeditious and efficient manner", a senior administration official told reporters in a news briefing Thursday, on condition of anonymity.

Less than 10 per cent of cases result in asylum being granted, the government says.

"President Trump's Proclamation is yet another attempt to destroy the United States´ long tradition to guarantee the fundamental human right to seek protection from life-threatening fear and persecution".

Administration officials said those denied asylum under the proclamation may be eligible for similar forms of protection if they fear returning to their countries, though they would be subject to a tougher threshold.

The caravan has remained undeterred, and participants have told Al Jazeera they plan on applying for asylum at an official port of entry. And in the last five years, the number of those requesting asylum has increased by 2,000 percent, it said.

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