Trump Administration Announces New Rules Giving President the Power to Deny Asylum to Illegal Immigrants

President Trump became enraged by a caravan of several thousand migrants traveling through Central America during the final weeks of the midterm election campaign.
Rodrigo Arangua/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Trump administration, invoking national security powers meant to protect the United States against threats from abroad, announced new rules on Thursday that give President Trump vast authority to deny asylum to virtually any migrant who crosses the border illegally.

Administration officials declined to say who will be affected by the new rules, but it is widely expected inside the government and by advocate groups that Mr. Trump intends to deny asylum to migrants from Central American nations, some of whom are marching toward the United States in a widely publicized caravan.

The president, who made immigration and the caravan major issues during the midterm election campaigns, is expected to announce on Friday which countries the rules will apply to. They will go into effect on an emergency basis as soon as they are published in the Federal Register.

The regulations will overhaul longstanding asylum laws that provide the opportunity for people fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries to seek sanctuary in the United States.

The changes effectively close the option of asylum to those who do not enter the country at an official port of entry, where immigrants and other travelers are legally allowed to cross from Mexico into the United States, after being processed by the Border Patrol. Recently, at some crossings, a crush of arrivals has created long lines and delays of several days.

“The law is clear: People can apply for asylum whether or not they’re at a port of entry, and regardless of their immigration status,” said Omar Jadwat, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The president doesn’t get to ignore that law, even if he dislikes it.”

The new regulations draw upon the same authority Mr. Trump used to ban travel from several predominantly Muslim countries only days after his inauguration and are certain to be challenged in court.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Michael D. Shear