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Trump administration seeks to deny asylum to migrants who cross border illegally
09 November 2018, 09:17 | Darnell Patrick
Trump administration takes step to tighten asylum system
Specifically, the administration is moving forward with a regulation that would withhold asylum protection from immigrants who cross the border illegally first.
POTUS initially revealed his administration's intentions last week during a speech at the White House in which he indicated that he was "finalizing a plan" to deny asylum claims from those who illegally enter the US.
Officials said once the plan came into full effect, migrants entering at the U.S. southern border would only be eligible for asylum if they reported at official ports of entry.
In Fiscal Year 2018, almost 90 percent of Central American migrants who arrived at the border and claimed "credible fear" passed their initial asylum-seeking interview.
Immigrant advocates have denounced the move, saying it violated existing U.S. law that allows people fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries to apply for asylum regardless of whether they enter illegally or not.
Mr Sessions, who resigned at Mr Trump's request this week, also instructed immigration judges and asylum officers to view illegal border-crossing as a "serious adverse factor" in deciding a case and to consider whether applicants could have escaped danger by relocating within their own countries.
The administration's plan, which invokes the same authority Trump used to justify his travel ban on citizens of several Muslim-majority nations, is likely to be quickly challenged in court. "It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree", Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Rights Project, said.
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"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", Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a joint statement. The military is expected to have the vast majority of the more than 7,000 troops planned for the mission deployed by Monday, and that number could grow.
The push comes after President Donald Trump railed during the final weeks of the campaign about "caravan after caravan" making its way to the border through Mexico.
Trump made immigration a key issue in Tuesday's election, stoking fear among his supporters about a migrant caravan that's still hundreds of miles away in Mexico.
The administration has long said immigration officials are drowning in asylum cases partly because people falsely claim asylum and then live in the US with work permits.
Less than 10 per cent of cases result in asylum being granted, the government says.
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However, as noted by Acosta and many others, the people travelling within the "caravan" are still hundreds of miles from the U.S. Acosta wasn't the only reporter with whom the president sparred. " Well I'm not a big fan of yours either ", Trump said.
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