We need people in our country but they have to come in legally and they have to have merit, Trump told reporters before leaving for Paris.
Late on Thursday afternoon, the Trump administration announced new restrictions on asylum seekers at the border with Mexico, in a move that experts said violated immigration laws.
The official said: "What we are attempting to do is trying to funnel asylum claims through the ports of entry where we are better resourced, have better capabilities and better manpower and staffing to actually handle those claims in an expeditious and efficient manner."
Trump administration to limit migrant asylum claims at US-Mexico border
The new regulation declares that people can apply for asylum along the US-Mexican border only at official ports of entry. Administration officials said the restrictions will go into effect on Saturday and will be in place for at least three months. They do not apply retroactively to people who have already crossed the border.
The government regards it as an emergency measure to channel asylum seekers to ports of entry, but comes in the face of hostile rhetoric from the president where he has repeatedly described desperate Central Americans fleeing places blighted by poverty and violence to seek succor in the US as an invasion.
However, the Immigration and Nationality Act says very clearly that any person can apply for asylum whether or not at a designated port of arrival, said Tom Jawetz, vice-president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, in a statement.
Read more The Trump administration has a track record of proclaiming illegal immigration restrictions that are later thrown out in court, beginning with multiple travel bans the White House attempted to impose shortly after Trumps inauguration. A narrow and temporary version of Trumps travel ban was allowed to take effect.
In its rush to obstruct asylum seekers, the administration is attempting an end run around the law, said Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council. Congress has spoken clearly. Individuals are not required to ask for asylum at a port of entry. Any person in the United States must have access to the asylum process.
Motivated by a sense of moral purpose and in accordance with international norms settled after the second world war, the United States accepts asylum applicants who fear persecution in their home countries due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
Just under 40,000 applications for asylum in the United States were made by Mexicans and Central Americans in the five fiscal years from 2011 through 2016, while about 35,000 came from China, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (Trac), a data-gathering organization at Syracuse University.
The rejection rate of more than 80% for Mexican and Central American asylum-seekers is far higher, however, than the rejection rate for Chinese asylum-seekers, 22%. Trac figures indicate that a couple of hundred Mexicans at most are granted US asylum each year.
But if the new Trump regulations seemed ill-equipped to ease pressure on the overwhelmed US asylum system, they could serve the purpose of tying Trumps political identity even more tightly to Americans concerns about immigrants from Central America and Mexico.
In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, Trump raised alarm about an invasion of immigrants from the south and even deployed the US military to the border – in an operation that the administration and media wholly dropped after the elections.
Video: White House to end asylum access on southern border
While the administration clearly felt an urgent need to politicize the plight of a group of people – mostly mothers and children – traveling slowly through Mexico in advance of Tuesdays midterm elections, that hardly provides the urgency needed to justify putting this cruel policy in place without first hearing from the public, Jawetz said.
Video: White House to end asylum access on southern border
With the Trump administration, its useful to remember that as much as they embrace fear-mongering and anti-immigrant bias for their perceived political benefits, they are also committed to furthering an anti-immigrant and anti-refugee agenda every single day.
The new Trump policy was signed by the homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, the lead apologist for Trumps policy of family separations at the border, and by the acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, whose appointment on Wednesday was deemed plainly illegal by John Yoo, who crafted the George W Bush administrations legal argument for torture.
The Trump administration has said it will deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, invoking extraordinary presidential national security powers to tighten the border as caravans of Central Americans slowly approach the United States.
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 nearly 2,000-mile border.
The Trump administration moved Thursday to order a sweeping new change meant to limit asylum claims by immigrants seeking to come to the U.S.
But the busy ports of entry already have long lines and waits, forcing immigration officials to tell some migrants to come back to make their claims.
Officials have turned away asylum seekers at border crossings because of overcrowding, telling them to return later. Backlogs have become especially bad in recent months at crossings in California, Arizona and Texas, with some people waiting five weeks to try to claim asylum at San Diegos main crossing.
The move was spurred in part by caravans of Central American migrants slowly moving north on foot, but will apply to anyone caught crossing illegally, officials said.
It is unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally.
The regulations will be incorporated in a proclamation expected to be issued on Friday by President Donald Trump.
The move was spurred in part by caravans of Central American migrants slowly moving north on foot but will apply to anyone caught crossing illegally, officials said. Its unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally.
He will invoke the same powers he used to push through a version of the travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court, according to senior administration officials.
US crackdown on asylum for migrants
The regulations would circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country.
Administration officials said those denied asylum under the proclamation may be eligible for similar forms of protection if they fear returning to their countries, though they would be subject to a tougher threshold.
Those forms of protection include “withholding of removal” — which is similar to asylum, but does not allow for green cards or bringing families — or asylum under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
Trump limits asylum, says migrants must “have merit
The announcement was the latest push to enforce Mr Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration through regulatory changes and presidential orders, bypassing Congress.
But those efforts have been largely thwarted by legal challenges and, in the case of family separations this year, stymied by a global outcry that prompted Mr Trump to scrap them.
US to deny asylum claims to illegal border crossers
Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said: “US 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.”
Curbing immigration has been a signature issue for Mr Trump, who pushed it hard in the days leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, railing against the caravans that are still hundreds of miles from the border.
He has made little mention of the issue since the election but has sent troops to the border in response.
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.
The military is expected to have the vast majority of the more than 7,000 troops planned for the mission deployed by Monday, and that number could grow.