USA moves to ban refugees who enter illegally

Members of one of the migrant caravans riding on a truck in Donaji Mexico last week

Illegal migrants entering through the southern United States border will no longer be eligible for asylum under a new rule, the Trump administration has said.

"US law is crystal clear that asylum seekers have the right to lodge asylum claims regardless of where they enter the country, and President Trump can not change the law on a whim", said Bill Frelick, Refugee Rights director at Human Rights Watch.

The announcement was the latest push to enforce Trump's hardline stance on immigration through regulatory changes and presidential orders, bypassing Congress.

Senior US administration officials said during a conference call on Thursday that they were working to ensure they had the resources and manpower at the ports of entry to prepare for any large number of asylum seekers arriving at the border.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a group that defends individual rights, declared the move "illegal".

An ACLU spokesman tweeted: "FACT: US law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry". Since 2014, asylum claims at the border have increased fourfold, adding to a backlog of more than 750,000 pending cases in US immigration courts.

Claims have spiked in recent years, and there is a backlog of more than 800,000 cases pending in immigration court.

But according to the new rule, Trump has authority to restrict illegal immigration "if he determines it to be in the national interest".




"Asylum-seekers have been left to camp out for days and weeks on bridges at the border, when they should be guaranteed a right to enter the country for a fair hearing".

The new rule is nearly certain to be challenged in courts.

A statement released by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker revealed the change in policy on Thursday.

"The biggest loophole drawing illegal aliens to our borders is the use of fraudulent or meritless asylum claims to gain entry into our great country", Mr. Trump said last week.

Trump's proclamation does not apply to unaccompanied children, officials said.

The move would largely affect migrants from Central America's Northern Triangle - Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador - who cross the USA border with Mexico to flee violence and poverty in their home countries.

Trump has also expressed an interest in ending birthright citizenship to those born to non-citizens and for ending the the so-called DACA protections of those who've been in the usa for years but were brought into the country illegally while children. The caravan is now around 600 miles from the United States.

It's unclear how many people en route to the USA will even make it to the border.

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