Migrants pause to sleep and rest in Mexico City, Mexico, on their way to the USA border from South America.
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.
New regulations will block migrants from claiming asylum if they do not come to an official border crossing.
Justice and Homeland Security officials said Thursday that President Donald Trump would make good on his pre-election promise last week to crack down on asylum seekers in response to a migrant caravan heading toward the US southern border.
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.
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"This interim regulation is not only inconsistent with the letter of the law, but flatly contradicts it", Frelick said. It's unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally.
The administration has long said immigration officials are drowning in asylum cases partly because people falsely claim asylum and then live in the US with work permits. "It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree", he said.
Claims have spiked in recent years, and there is a backlog of more than 800,000 cases pending in immigration court. The new rule is nearly certain to be challenged in courts. Generally, only about 20 per cent of applicants are approved. Those issues were not addressed by the regulations Thursday. Trump said "we're putting up massive tent cities" with "the military's help" although a defense official said at the time that the Pentagon had received no request to set up tents for detained migrants.
POTUS initially revealed his administration's intentions last week during a speech at the White House in which he indicated that he was "finalizing a plan" to deny asylum claims from those who illegally enter the US. Humanitarian aid converged around the stadium in Mexico City where thousands of Central American migrants winding their way toward the United States were resting Tuesday after an arduous trek that has taken them through three countries in three weeks. Several smaller groups were trailing hundreds of miles to the south; officials estimated about 7,000 in all were in the country in the caravans. Most have passed largely unnoticed.