Trump orders crackdown on asylum seekers

Donald Trump's administration has unveiled new rules to sharply limit migrant asylum claims by barring individuals who cross the U.S. southern border illegally from seeking asylum.

During the election, Trump sought to sow fear over a caravan of Central American migrants and asylum seekers now trekking north through Mexico.

It was published last night and awaiting the president's signature.

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. "It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree", Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Rights Project, said.

The caravan has remained undeterred, and participants said they plan on applying for asylum at an official port of entry.

It is unclear how numerous migrants traveling in the caravans will approach the ports of entry and attempt to enter legally.

A statement from the Trump administration said the new measures are in the "national interest".

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials defend the practice on the grounds that the border crossings are not equipped to process hundreds of asylum seekers daily, and officers must continue to facilitate ordinary cross-border travel and trade while protecting the country from terrorists and drug runners.

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Mr Sessions, who resigned at Mr Trump's request this week, also instructed immigration judges and asylum officers to view illegal border-crossing as a "serious adverse factor" in deciding a case and to consider whether applicants could have escaped danger by relocating within their own countries.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen announced what is known as the Interim Final Rule on Thursday.

The ban drew multiple legal challenges and forced the administration to issue three different versions before a revised ban was upheld in June by the Supreme Court on a 5 to 4 vote.

"Since 2017, Amnesty has documented that thousands of people already wait for weeks on end at the ports of entry, and others have been wrongfully turned away by USA border officials as they attempt to seek protection".

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He called a current caravan, which is still hundreds of miles from the United States border and dwindling in numbers, an "invasion" and said it would bring hardened criminals to U.S. streets. More than 1,700 were children under 18, and more than 300 were children under age five.

Similar caravans have gathered regularly over the years and have generally dwindled by the time they reach the southern border.

  • Sonia Alvarado