Laying the groundwork for an announcement on illegal immigration by President Donald Trump as soon as Friday, the Trump Administration is rolling out new rules for how the United States will deal with immigrants who make claims of asylum, setting new regulations which would make it almost impossible for people who cross into the U.S. illegally to make an asylum claim.
"The President has stated his commitment to securing the border, and we are working to insure that is possible," a senior administration official told reporters on Thursday afternoon.
The new plan would require any immigrants who want to claim asylum because of a 'credible fear' of being returned to their home country - to make that request at an official U.S. port of entry on the southern border - and not if they are picked up by authorities between those entry points.
Officials described the new regulations as ones which would apply to illegal immigrants who are the subject of a specific future proclamation by the President, limiting the entry of certain people into the United States.
"At this time, we don't have anything to announce about any Presidential proclamations, but we anticipate having news to share with you all tomorrow," a senior official added.
"Today’s new rule applies to prospective presidential proclamations, and is not retroactive," the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security announced in a joint release.
"The interim rule, if applied to a proclamation suspending the entry of aliens who cross the southern border unlawfully, would bar such aliens from eligibility for asylum," the new rule states.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the effort was clearly not legal.
"U.S. 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 group said in a statement.
On Wednesday, President Trump made clear at a post-election news conference that he was ready to move forward with executive actions on immigration.
"Do you see yourself using executive power to get some of your immigration agenda done?" the President was asked.
"I do. I do. I think that some of it I can use executive power - on some," Mr. Trump answered, still indicating he wanted Congress to act as well.
Today's actions do not cover the issue of birthright citizenship, which the President brought up just before the mid-term elections.
At his Wednesday news conference, the President made clear that if he took any action on birthright citizenship, he expected that to immediately go into the courts, which is what is expected on asylum as well.
"I believe we have the absolute right. But that's another case that will be determined by the Supreme Court of the United States," Mr. Trump indicated about birthright citizenship.
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