U.S. President Donald Trump has further increased his pitch before the midterm elections and targeted the migrant caravan headed to the country’s southern border. Trump on Thursday announced a plan to change U.S. asylum rules that will limit where the applications can be made.
Trump spoke of this in broad terms during a press conference on Thursday evening but he did not release details on the asylum proposal or how it would be implemented. According to a White House aide, the administration will seek to require migrants to request asylum at legal points of entry, and prevent them from claiming asylum if they are caught crossing the border illegally. The President said he would sign an immigration-related executive order next week, but was not specific as to what it would address.
Trump’s action – which would come through an executive order would look at re-hauling the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Act states that anyone who arrives in the U.S. “whether or not at a designated port of arrival” may apply for asylum if he or she has a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”
This Thursday statement is just one in a long line of actions that his government has taken to try and discourage asylum seekers to coming to the U.S. Earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that victims of gang and domestic violence no longer qualify for asylum. “Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems, even all serious problems, that people face every day all over the world,” Sessions said in June.
Those comprising the migrant caravan hail from the South American countries of Guatemala, Hondura, El Salvador. These countries suffer from exceptionally high crime rates and gang violence.
Trump also suggested that the asylum claims those entering illegally should be rejected even before asylum seekers appear before a judge and begin court proceedings and that the simple fact of crossing the border illegally could also be a factor in rejecting an asylum claim.
The U.S. president also said his government is building "massive" tent cities to house asylum seekers, including children, while their claims are processed. He added that “there would be no catch and release.” He was attacking the continued policy of registering asylum seekers, fitting them with trackers and releasing them into the U.S. after giving them court dates.
This press conference came just 24 hours after Donald Trump said that he was looking at sending 15,000 troops to the U.S.’s southern border to deter illegal immigrants and asylum seekers.