Trump administration to deny asylum to migrants who enter country illegally
New policies will curb long-standing humanitarian rules
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced new measures Thursday that would deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, invoking emergency powers to curb long-standing humanitarian protections for foreigners who arrive on American soil.
The restrictions rely on authorities invoked by the president to implement his travel ban in early 2017, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the measures.
“Those who enter the country between ports are knowingly and voluntarily breaking the law,” said one official. “So while immigration laws afford people various forms of protection, there’s a violation of federal law in the manner these illegal aliens are entering the country.”
President Donald Trump is preparing a proclamation to assert the emergency powers, and the rule changes will be published Friday in the Federal Register, the officials said.
Legal challenges are expected to follow soon after. Immigration advocacy groups insist U.S. laws clearly extend asylum protections to anyone who reaches the United States, no matter how they enter the country.
The asylum restrictions are the latest attempts by the administration to assert executive powers to restrict immigrants and foreigners from entering the U.S. And with thousands of Central Americans moving north through Mexico in caravan groups, Trump has been demanding new tools to stop them at the border.
Privately, Homeland Security Department officials acknowledge the new restrictions, at least on their own, are unlikely to achieve the kind of immediate deterrent the White House desires.
Detention space at U.S. immigration jails already is nearly at capacity, and court-imposed limits on the government’s ability to hold children in immigration jails for longer than 20 days mean most migrant families who arrive seeking protection are still likely to be released pending a hearing.
The new measures under preparation would continue to allow foreigners to request asylum if they enter the country legally at U.S. ports of entry, but not those who cross without authorization, administration officials said.
Central American migrants in a caravan that has stopped in Mexico City demanded buses Thursday to take them to the U.S. border, saying it is too cold and dangerous to continue walking and hitchhiking.
Mexico City authorities say that of the 4,841 registered migrants receiving shelter in a sports complex, 1,726 are under the age of 18, including 310 children younger than 5.
“We need buses to continue traveling,” said Milton Benitez, a caravan coordinator. He noted that it would be colder in northern Mexico and it wasn’t safe for the migrants to continue along highways, where drug cartels frequently operate.
He said the route and departure time would be decided at a meeting Thursday night.