Trump administration blocks asylum claims by those crossing border illegally

Trump just announced a big change to immigration policy – and it will affect caravan migrants

"US law is crystal clear that asylum seekers have the right to lodge asylum claims regardless of where they enter the country, and President Trump can not change the law on a whim", said Bill Frelick, Refugee Rights director at Human Rights Watch.

If an asylum seeker enters the U.S. illegally, they have been - until now - still entitled to a hearing of their claim.

Illegal migrants entering through the southern U.S. border will no longer be eligible for asylum under a new rule, the Trump administration has said.

The interim final rule asserts that the administration can effect these changes under its regulatory authority, but in fact the rule represents an unlawful attempt to change the letter of the statute by regulation. The official did not say where asylum-seekers would be housed should they arrive at those ports of entry in large numbers. The proclamation puts into place regulations adopted Thursday that circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country.

President Trump has signed an immigration order requiring asylum seekers to make their claim at their point of entry to the USA, and barring illegal immigrants from requesting asylum. Before the midterm elections, Trump mulled ending birthright citizenship - the policy that ensures all children born on usa soil are automatically citizens - by executive order.

One senior administration official spoke to reporters in a news briefing on condition of anonymity. In recent weeks the wait at some crossings has stretched to several days or more, and in Tijuana the list of asylum seekers has grown to more than 1,000 people. About 4,800 migrants are sheltered in a sports complex in Mexico City, some 600 miles (965 kilometers) from the USA border.

Claims have spiked in recent years, and there is a backlog of more than 800,000 cases pending in immigration court.

Under US law, there is a legal obligation to hear asylum claims from migrants if they say they fear violence in their home countries. Trump's recently departed attorney general Jeff Session announced a policy change at his Justice Department to deny survivors of domestic abuse and gang violence asylum claims, which could further curtail the success rate.

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. By 2023, the Center for Immigration Studies estimates that the legal and illegal immigrant population of the USA will make up almost 15 percent of the entire US population.

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

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