President Trump in a speech at the White House on Thursday announced that asylum-seekers wishing to apply must “lawfully present themselves” at ports of entry, or else they will be turned away.
He said that he plans to issue a "comprehensive" executive order as soon as next week, including his plan to deal with those seeking asylum and fail to heed his warning.
Fox News reports,
The move appeared designed to prevent many members of the leading Central American migrant caravan -- which now numbers approximately 4,000, down from a high of 7,200 -- to make asylum claims if and when they reach the U.S. border. Asylum claims made by migrants caught crossing the border illegally would seemingly be summarily denied under Trump's proposal.
The asylum clause of the Immigration and Nationality Act says that anyone who arrives to the U.S. may apply for asylum based on a well-founded fear of persecution, and Trump's decision was likely to prompt immediate federal court challenges.
In his remarks, Trump called the thousands of migrants in the approaching caravans from Central America ‘not legitimate asylum-seekers’ because most of them have not decided to remain in Mexico and pursue asylum there.
‘Asylum is not a program for people living in poverty,’ he said.
President Trump during his remarks said that while "America is a welcoming country" and has "the largest and most expansive immigration programs on the planet," the U.S. "will not allow our generosity to be abused by those who would break our laws, defy our rules, violate our borders, break into our country illegally."
"We won’t allow it," said Trump. "Mass uncontrolled immigration is especially unfair to the many wonderful law-abiding immigrants already living here who followed the rules and waited their turn.”
He warned that if his administration allows the migrant caravan into the country, it sets a dangerous precedent:
“If these caravans are allowed into our country, only bigger and more emboldened caravans will follow – and you see that’s what’s happening now,” said Trump.
His remarks have outraged immigration activists, who are accusing the president of changing the law on asylum.
Others have said the announcement is nothing more than a stunt to encourage Republican voter turnout for the midterm elections.
Watch his remarks below.