Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

United States immigration officials move to restrict asylum at border

United States immigration officials move to restrict asylum at border

Donald Trump moved Friday to restrict asylum claims by people who illegally cross the United States border with Mexico, as the president seeks to choke off migration from Latin America.

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said Friday its legal experts were reviewing the new U.S. policy but declined to comment further.

The new interim final rule from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security requires anyone who enters illegally to be returned to their country of origin on an expedited basis, reports the Conservative Tribune. Trump announced the change as he departed the White House Friday for a trip to Paris to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I.

Trump made his hard-line policies toward immigration a key issue ahead of Tuesday's midterm elections, sending thousands of U.S. troops to help secure the southern border and repeatedly drawing attention to a caravan of Central American migrants trekking through Mexico toward the United States.

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

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The Justice Department's oversight of the special counsel Russian Federation probe has been the focus of Matthew Whitaker's days-old tenure as acting attorney general, but already his name is attached to a new rule that prevents people who enter the country illegally from claiming asylum. There, "they would be processed in a controlled, orderly, and lawful manner", according to the rule. Immigrants would have to apply for asylum status at designated points of entry, and those already in the country illegally would not be able to apply. The administration believes it can modify that with its new rule.

They are meant to speed up rulings on asylum claims, instead of having migrants try to circumvent official crossings on the almost 2,000-mile border.

A federal statute in the U.S. Code says that "any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in worldwide or United States waters), irrespective of such alien's status, may apply for asylum".

Under the new rule, the "credible fear" interviews would be preceded by determinations of whether Trump's proclamation applies to migrants caught crossing the border.

Critics say that American law doesn't dictate where a person can apply in order to be eligible for asylum.

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