Trump announces new rules to limit migrant asylum claims

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The Trump administration said it would prohibit people who illegally cross the US border with Mexico from claiming asylum, as the president seeks to choke off migration from Latin America.

President Donald Trump has blamed USA asylum rules for luring thousands of migrants a year from Central American countries.

Migrants would only be eligible for asylum if they came through official ports of entry.

Trump also suggested he'd revoke the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil and erect massive "tent cities" to detain migrants. "Under current practice, border agents are repeatedly turning asylum-seekers away and telling them to come back another day". Trump has vowed to stop them from entering the country and made the issue a key part of his closing argument ahead of this week's midterm elections.

The new rules are subject to a presidential proclamation expected Friday in which Trump will invoke the same justification he did for the travel ban.

Immigrant rights advocates said the new rule amounts to a humanitarian crisis, as it will likely significantly reduce the number of people, fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries, who are able to request asylum in the U.S. "It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree", the ACLU said.

Administration officials argue the asylum system is abused by people who are not seeking security in the USA but are instead searching for economic opportunity or trying to reunite with family members. More than 7,000 active duty troops could eventually be deployed, Defense Department officials said.

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Under the new rule, immigrants would have to make their asylum claim at an official point of entry, where it could be processed.

Members of the migrant caravan arrive at the shelter of the Church of the Assumption, in the city of Puebla.

Two senior administration officials that spoke to NBC News said that "of the [immigration] measures most likely to be approved by the president, all were likely to lead to a lawsuit".

The interim final rule posted Thursday from the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security would bar immigrants who cross the "southern border unlawfully" from "eligibility for asylum". It's unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally.

"What we are attempting to do is trying to funnel. asylum claims through the ports of entry where we are better resourced, have better capabilities and better manpower and staffing to actually handle those claims in an expeditious and efficient manner", they said.

In 2017, the US fielded more than 330,000 asylum claims, almost double the number two years earlier and surpassing Germany as highest in the world.

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