The Trump government unveiled new rules on Thursday to restrict migrants' asylum applications sharply by preventing individuals who illegally cross the southern-south border from requesting asylum.
Proponents of immigrants denounced the move and said it violated the existing American law that allows people who are fleeing persecution and violence in their homeland to apply for asylum, regardless of whether they enter illegally or not.
The regulations released on Thursday, combined with an order that is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump, would prohibit migrants who illegally cross the border with the United States from being eligible for asylum.
Once the plan comes into full force, migrants arriving at the southern southern border of the US will only be eligible for asylum if they report to the official landing ports, officials said.
More resources, staff
"What we are trying to do is try to make asylum requests through the ports of entry, where we have better resources, better capabilities and better manpower and personnel to handle these claims in a quick and efficient way." government official told reporters in a Thursday newsletter, subject to anonymity.
The Trump government has already made it more difficult for migrants to qualify for asylum in the United States.
Government officials have said that the existing US asylum rules encourage illegal immigration and exacerbate legitimate claims.
In June, the then Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a decision on appeal that sharply reduced the conditions under which immigrants can use violence at home as grounds for asylum from the US.
Sessions, who resigned at Trump's request this week, also instructed immigration officials and asylum officials to consider illegal border crossings as a "serious detriment" when taking a case and to consider whether applicants could escape danger by being in their own country to establish.
Trump made his hard immigration policy a key issue prior to Tuesday's midterm elections, sending thousands of US troops to secure the southern frontier and repeatedly drawing attention to caravans of Central American migrants migrating through Mexico to the United States.
At the moment, American asylum rules do not dismiss people who enter the country without permission, and the Immigration and Nationality Act, which regulates the American immigration system, specifically allows people arriving in the United States, regardless of whether they do so at a designated port of entry , to request asylum.
The challenge for the court seems likely
The plan of the administration, which calls for the same authority that Trump used to justify his travel ban for citizens of different countries with a majority view of the Muslims, will probably soon be challenged before the court.
The move would largely affect migrants from the northern triangle of Central America – Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – crossing the border with Mexico to flee violence and poverty in their homeland.
"The vast majority of foreigners entering illegally today come from the countries of the Northern Triangle," says the text of the regulation. "The channeling of these foreigners to the ports of entry would encourage these foreigners to first make use of offers from asylum in Mexico."
Proponents of immigrants denounced the government's policy as illegal and said that the plan to direct migrants to the access ports was only one way to reduce asylum claims in general.
"Congress immediately asked this question whether individuals are not eligible for asylum if they cross between the ports of entry and have specifically said that people are eligible, regardless of where they cross," said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer at the US Civil liberties Union.
"Ports of entry … are overcrowded," said Jonathan Ryan, director of RAICES, an immigrant group from Texas. "Asylum seekers have been left to camp for days and weeks on bridges at the border, when they must have the right to enter the country for fair treatment."