President Trump expected to sign executive order on asylum system soon

Trump just announced a big change to immigration policy – and it will affect caravan migrants

Trump administration blocks asylum claims by those crossing border illegally

The Trump administration unveiled new rules on Thursday to sharply limit migrant asylum claims by barring individuals who cross the us southern border illegally from seeking asylum.

"US law is crystal clear that asylum seekers have the right to lodge asylum claims regardless of where they enter the country, and President Trump can not change the law on a whim", said Bill Frelick, Refugee Rights director at Human Rights Watch.

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The measures are meant to funnel asylum seekers through official border crossings for speedy rulings, officials said, instead of having them try to circumvent such crossings on the almost 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometre) border.

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The American Civil Liberties Union, which defends constitutional rights, said that the right to request asylum must be granted to anyone entering the country. U.S law states that any individual can seek asylum, whether or not they are at an official point of entry.

Trump said last week that he planned to modify the asylum process to make it more hard for Central American migrants in the caravan to request protection.

But according to the new rule, Trump has authority to restrict illegal immigration "if he determines it to be in the national interest". It's unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally. Those issues were not addressed by the regulations Thursday.

Immigrant advocates denounced the administration's move as unlawful, and said the plan to funnel migrants to ports of entry was just a way to cut asylum claims overall. Generally, only about 20 per cent of applicants are approved.

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"Beyond Trump's dehumanizing rhetoric are mothers, fathers, and children fleeing extremely risky situations enduring a perilous journey because they've had no choice but to leave their home".

"Asylum-seekers have been left to camp out for days and weeks on bridges at the border, when they should be guaranteed a right to enter the country for a fair hearing".

The current policy allows migrants - no matter how they entered the United States - up to a year to make an asylum claim.

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 migrants are largely poor people and many say they're fleeing violence; more than 1,700 were children under 18, and more than 300 were children under age 5.

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