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Trump signs proclamation stopping illegal immigrants from being given asylum

09 November 2018

The president has declared immigrants are abusing America's generous asylum system, claiming the United States' asylum rules are the "biggest loophole drawing illegal aliens to our borders".

The rule 'would bar such aliens from eligibility for asylum and thereby channel inadmissible aliens to ports of entry, where they would be processed in a controlled, orderly, and lawful manner'.

A statement from the Trump administration said the new measures are in the "national interest". Rights groups have called the move "illegal".

Curbing immigration has been a signature issue for Trump, who pushed it hard in the days leading up to Tuesday's midterm elections, railing against the caravans that are still hundreds of kilometres from the border as an impending "invasion".

During the election, Trump sought to sow fear over a caravan of Central American migrants and asylum seekers now trekking north through Mexico. But many migrants are unaware of that guidance, and official border crossings have grown clogged.

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What is the new rule?

According to an administration official, the president plans to sign the order as soon as tomorrow.

Under global law, those who do have a serious fear of persecution are considered refugees.

U.S. officials indicated Saturday that they had no plans to expand staffing of asylum claim facilities at the ports.

"Congress has directly spoken to this question as to whether individuals can be rendered ineligible for asylum if they cross between ports of entry and has specifically said people are eligible regardless of where they cross", said Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

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The order would force migrants seeking to apply for asylum to do so only at ports of entry, and not after stepping onto US soil illegally.

"The proposal is patently unlawful and there will be a court challenge", said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project.

Secretary General Kumi Naidoo issued a statement attacking the president's "dehumanising rhetoric". Asylum is not a loophole, it is a lifeline. "They hurt thousands of women and children. who have been denied a future already by U.S. foreign policy" the organisation added.

The section is the same legal authority Trump asserted to bar foreigners from certain Muslim-majority countries from coming to the United States under the "travel ban" in early 2017.

In June, the president signed an executive order promising to "keep families together" in migrant detentions, after undocumented parents and children were separated at the border.

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With so many asylum seekers arriving at border crossings, USA customs officers have been limiting the number of people allowed to approach the pedestrian entry lanes, a tactic known as "metering" that has triggered challenges in federal court.

Trump signs proclamation stopping illegal immigrants from being given asylum