Trump administration publishes rule restricting asylum seekers

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By Julia Ainsley

WASHINGTON — Fulfilling President Donald Trump’s midterm promise to crack down on undocumented immigrants crossing the Southwest border, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security published a rule on Thursday that will make it harder for immigrants to claim asylum if they are caught crossing the border between designated ports of entry.

Senior administration officials told reporters on a conference call that the president has the legal authority to do so because of sections of immigration law that allow the president discretion over who is admitted into the United States — the same language the administration used to support its travel ban in court.

The officials said the plan is to force more immigrants who wish to claim asylum to do so at designated ports of entry. Recently, many asylum seekers have chosen to cross illegally because they are kept waiting for days in Mexico due to backlogs at ports of entry.

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The full text of the new regulation can be found here.

The administration is expecting lawsuits to be filed, which could keep enjoin the new policy from going into effect.

Already, the ACLU has said it will sue.

“The proposal is patently unlawful and there will be a court challenge,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Immigrants crossing between ports of entry will still be allowed to claim asylum, but will have to prove that they meet a higher bar than a “credible fear” of returning to their home country, the current preliminary test. Under the new rule, the officials said, asylum seekers will only be permitted to remain at large in the U.S. as they await a court hearing if they can prove “reasonable fear” or that they are protected under the UN’s Convention against Torture.

Under international law, however, asylum seekers are permitted to make a claim regardless of where they enter.

Trump is expected to sign a presidential proclamation finalizing the rule on Friday morning.

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