WASHINGTON — The Trump administration put forward a new rule Thursday that would allow the U.S. to prevent those who cross into the U.S. illegally from receiving asylum.
“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,” Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a joint statement.
President Donald Trump initially floated the change during remarks on illegal immigration shortly before Tuesday’s midterm elections, tying it to a migrant caravan heading toward the U.S.-Mexico border from Honduras in hopes of seeking asylum.
While the Immigration and Nationality Act allows asylum seekers to make their pleas if they are in the U.S. illegally, the officials pointed to language in the law that states the president can “suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”
Nevertheless, the new policy is likely to spark a legal battle that could rise to the Supreme Court.
“U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry,” Omar Jadwat, the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project’s Director, said in a terse statement. “It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree.”