Trump Administration Introduces Law to Limit Asylum to Illegal Border Crossers
Hopeful asylum seekers making their way to the US border through Mexico (Photo: Twitter)

A day after the ruling Republican Party held on to its majority in the US Senate, the Trump Administration has introduced a law that will no longer allow people who enter the country illegally to claim asylum.

This law comes as US President Donald Trump had pushed illegal immigration as the foremost issue facing the American public. He has used the pictures of the migrant caravan working its way towards the U.S. through Mexico as an “invasion” of his country.

In a call with reporters Thursday, senior administration officials said President Donald Trump is expected to sign a presidential proclamation that blocks illegal border crossers from the asylum process. He will invoke the same powers he used to push through a version of the travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court, according to senior administration officials.  The administration officials said the president has the authority to limit asylum for some foreigners under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The restriction on asylum claims will seek to address what a senior administration official called the "historically unparalleled abuse of our immigration system" along the border with Mexico.

The new rule was published by the Department of Homeland Security and is expected to get President Donald Trump's signature as early as Friday – as well as face court challenges.

"Today's rule applies this important principle to aliens who violate such a suspension or restriction regarding the southern border," Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker said on Thursday.

The American Civil Liberties Union said that right of asylum must be granted to anyone entering the country, regardless of where they were. "US law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree," the ACLU said.

Those seeking political or other kinds of asylum -- nearly all of them coming from impoverished and gang crime-plagued countries of Central America -- will be heard exclusively at the border crossings, administration officials told journalists. This even as the groups of probable asylum seekers are several hundred miles away from the nearest stretch of U.S. border in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

This law is expected to push the asylum seekers to the crowded border crossings where the wait to enter the U.S. stretches into interminable delays. The Trump Administration says the law will help streamline the overburdened system, as there is a backlog of more than 700,000 cases in the immigration courts. (With PTI  and AFP inputs)