Feds announce new policy to limit asylum claims

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The issue of the country's loose asylum laws - where foreign nationals can claim that they fear for their lives in their native country and be released into the USA until their day in court - has sparked debate as a caravan of 7,000 to 10,000 Central Americans heads to the U.S.

The administration's plan, which invokes the same authority Mr Trump used to justify his travel ban on citizens of several Muslim-majority nations, is likely to be quickly challenged in court.

The Trump administration indicated that the president would follow through on an order to limit asylum claims to those made at ports of entry.

They said he would sign a proclamation Friday putting the new rules into effect before he leaves for a trip to Paris later in the day. "It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree", the ACLU said.

The measures are meant to funnel asylum seekers through official border crossings for speedy rulings, officials said, instead of having them try to circumvent such crossings on the almost 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometre) border.

"US law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry", said Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project.


The rule, as outlined by administration officials on a briefing call, is meant to crack down on people who jump the border illegally and then subsequently make asylum claims.

"Our asylum system is overwhelmed with too many meritless asylum claims from aliens who place a tremendous burden on our resources, preventing us from being able to expeditiously grant asylum to those who truly deserve it", the Department of Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, and acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, said in a joint statement.

This is expected to put a dent in those streaming into an already overburdened system, officials said, noting that there is a backlog of more than 700,000 cases in the immigration courts.

He called a current caravan, which is still hundreds of miles from the USA border and dwindling in numbers, an "invasion" and said it would bring hardened criminals to U.S. streets.

Administration officials said those denied asylum under the proclamation may be eligible for similar forms of protection if they fear returning to their countries, though they would be subject to a tougher threshold.

But the administration official argued that "what we're attempting to do is trying to funnel credible fear claims, or asylum claims, through the ports of entry where we are better resourced". A report by the left-leaning Washington Office on Latin America suggested that "the number of unaccompanied children and family members admitted to the ports of entry, mainly for protection requests, plummeted by 42 percent from May to June".

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