Trump Administration Moves to Curb Migrants' Asylum Claims

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President Donald Trump has signed a proclamation that would prevent immigrants from qualifying for asylum if they entered the United States illegally.

With the administration unveiling a new policy Thursday night that will expedite deportations of people who cross into the United States illegally and deny previously legal asylum claims and sign an executive order on that policy Friday morning, the White House is prepared for the lawsuits likely to be brought against it.

The new measures under preparation would continue to allow foreigners to request asylum if they enter the country legally at USA ports of entry, but not those who cross without authorization, administration officials said. Trump's recently departed attorney general Jeff Session announced a policy change at his Justice Department to deny survivors of domestic abuse and gang violence asylum claims, which could further curtail the success rate.

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In June, then-attorney general Jeff Sessions issued an appellate decision that sharply narrowed the circumstances under which immigrants could use violence at home as grounds for United States asylum. This decision was immediately challenged in court, with a federal judge in January issuing a nationwide injunction ordering the administration to continue the program. Rights groups call rules unconstitutional and a violation of worldwide law.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which defends constitutional rights, said that the right to request asylum must be granted to anyone entering the country. This policy needlessly places the lives of thousands of people in danger. "It is immoral and inhumane".

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. As of Thursday, there are more than 5,600 US troops deployed to the border mission, with about 550 actually working on the border in Texas. Under the old rule, any immigrant in the country illegally arrested anywhere could instantly claim asylum and a case had to be filed for them, taking up resources and valuable time from an already overburdened asylum system.

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Friday's proclamation comes less than three days after the midterm elections in which Republicans maintained their hold on the Senate, but lost control of the House to the Democrats.

The asylum section of the Immigration and Nationality Act says a migrant is allowed to make a claim up to a year after arriving in the USA, and it doesn't matter how they arrive - illegally or through a border crossing.

The initial wave of the caravan left Honduras a month ago, and thousands more have followed. It's unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homelands, plan to cross illegally. Trump said last week that he planned to modify the asylum process to make it more hard for Central American migrants in the caravan to request protection.

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Individuals are now allowed to apply for asylum whether they identify themselves at ports of entry or bypass them illegally to gain entry into the US.

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