Nov. 8 (UPI) -- The Trump administration announced new rules Thursday to limit people who cross the border illegally from seeking asylum in the United States.
Senior administration officials said they expect President Donald Trump to sign a proclamation Friday saying only those who present themselves to official ports of entry along the Southwest border can claim asylum. The new rule, issued by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice, can only go into effect once the president signs the proclamation.
Thursday's announcement comes one week after Trump announced his intention to place new limits on who can ask for asylum. Migrants who cross illegally, he said, would be held until deportation.
Trump called immigration at the southern border with Mexico a "crisis," specifically calling attention to a group of Central American migrants walking north through Mexico, some of who said they intend to seek asylum in the United States. The president, who has repeatedly referred to the group of migrants as a "caravan," told them to immediately turn around, accusing them of fraudulent asylum claims.
The group of migrants reached Mexico City this week, less than 500 miles from the nearest port of entry in McAllen, Texas.
"We do not expect any one action to stall all of the myriad legion of flaws in our nation's current immigration system," a senior administration official told reporters Thursday.
The officials said Trump had the authority to institute the new rule in the same way he had authority to implement a travel ban to people from majority Muslim countries. U.S. law, though, says the government must accept all asylum claims.
"U.S. 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," said Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project.
Trump said he intends to end the "release" portion of what he called the United States' "catch and release" program, in which migrants who cross the border illegally and seek asylum are arrested and then released into the country pending a court date.
Last week, the Department of Defense ordered 5,200 U.S. troops to deploy to the border with Mexico ahead of the arrival of the Central American migrants. On Oct, 31, Trump said the number of troops could increase to 10,000 to 15,000, on par with the 14,000 deployed to Afghanistan.