USA immigration officials move to restrict asylum at border

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As President Trump's administration releases new asylum rules - blocking illegal border crossers from claiming asylum in the U.S. - DHS data notes that the overwhelming majority of Central American migrants who claim "credible fear" do not have legitimate asylum claims.

The rule 'would bar such aliens from eligibility for asylum and thereby channel inadmissible aliens to ports of entry, where they would be processed in a controlled, orderly, and lawful manner'. Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project, said they were clearly illegal.

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.

A senior White House official said that the measure would address the "historically unparalleled abuse of our immigration system" along the border with Mexico.

The rule, which is likely to be challenged in court by pro-immigration groups, was spurred in part by caravans of Central American migrants walking toward the border.

But according to the new rule, Trump has authority to restrict illegal immigration "if he determines it to be in the national interest".

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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. It's unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally. However, Trump's focus on the issue during campaigning for Tuesday's hotly contested midterm congressional elections was criticized as veering into immigrant-bashing and even racism.

Trump said he was sending 15,000 active duty military to the border to deal with the problem, in what former President Barack Obama called a political 'stunt.' The troops began laying barbed wire as the migrants traveled toward the USA on foot. Trump said "we're putting up massive tent cities" with "the military's help" although a defense official said at the time that the Pentagon had received no request to set up tents for detained migrants.

Officials say the new policy is grounded in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

Less than 10 per cent of cases result in asylum being granted, the government says.

The Trump administration has already made it more hard for migrants to qualify for asylum in the United States. About 4,800 migrants are sheltered in a sports complex in Mexico City, some 600 miles (965 kilometres) from the USA border.

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