The Trump administration announced Thursday that migrants who attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally will not be eligible to claim asylum under a new rule meant to crack down on “meritless” claims.
The rule, which prevents migrants from claiming asylum if they do not do so at an official border crossing, is the latest attempt by the White House to handle a surge in migration to the U.S. from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
President Donald Trump is expected to formally enact the rule in a presidential proclamation Friday and will invoke the same powers he used to push through a version of the travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court, according to senior administration officials.
“Consistent with our immigration laws, the President has the broad authority to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens into the United States if he determines it to be in the national interest to do so,” Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a joint statement.
She also said, “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. Today, we are using the authority granted to us by Congress to bar aliens who violate a presidential suspension of entry or other restriction from asylum eligibility.”
The announcement was the latest push to enforce Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration through regulatory changes and presidential orders, bypassing Congress. But those efforts have been largely thwarted by legal challenges and, in the case of family separations this year, stymied by a global outcry that prompted Trump to scrap them.
A senior administration official said the White House hopes that by funneling asylum claimants to ports of entry, officials will be able to assess and adjudicate the claims more rapidly. The official did not say where asylum-seekers would be housed should they arrive at those ports of entry in large numbers. The official added that the rule was not retroactive and only covers future asylum claimants.
Migrants who cross illegally are generally arrested and often seek asylum or some other form of protection. Claims have spiked in recent years, and there is a backlog of more than …