Accordingly, if the president issues a suspension or ban on entry through the US/Mexican border, those who illegally manage to enter the US will not be allowed to apply for asylum once there. President Trump is expected to sign it shortly. As of Thursday, there are more than 5,600 US troops deployed to the border mission, with about 550 actually working on the border in Texas.
Administration officials described the new policy as necessary to combat what they see as rampant abuse of the existing system, noting that most migrants who request asylum under the current process are ultimately denied.
Individuals are now allowed to apply for asylum whether they identify themselves at ports of entry or bypass them illegally to gain entry into the US.
The administration's plan, which invokes the same authority Mr Trump used to justify his travel ban on citizens of several Muslim-majority nations, is likely to be quickly challenged in court.
The Trump administration took a major step on Thursday to restrict asylum claims, putting forward a regulation that would make individuals ineligible for asylum if they cross the USA southern border between official ports of entry.
Central American migrants on Wednesday continued to straggle in for a rest stop at a Mexico City stadium, where about 4,500 continue to weigh offers to stay in Mexico against the desire of many to reach the USA border.
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Immigrant advocates denounced the move, saying it violated existing USA law that allows people fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries to apply for asylum regardless of whether they enter illegally or not. More than 7,000 active duty troops could eventually be deployed, Defense Department officials said.
That way, he said, courts will "handle those claims in an expeditious and efficient manner, so that those who do actually require an asylum protection get those protections". Those issues were not addressed by the regulations Thursday.
It only would affect immigrants who seek asylum after the issuance of a presidential proclamation. Claims have spiked in recent years, and there is a backlog of more than 800,000 cases pending in immigration court.
This summer, multiple news outlets reported that hundreds of migrants who had legally presented themselves to US agents at official ports of entry, like San Ysidro, California and El Paso, Texas, were told that their asylum requests could not be processed.
Officials have turned away asylum seekers at border crossings because of overcrowding, telling them to return later.
It's unclear how many people en route to the USA will even make it to the border. 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.