WASHINGTON (AP)— President Donald Trump was expected to announce on Thursday his plans to deny asylum to migrants who try to enter the U.S. between ports of entry — a legally questionable move that was part of his election-season barrage of actions aimed at caravans heading toward the border.
It was unclear whether the restrictions Trump was expected to propose would apply only to those traveling in the caravans or extend to all people trying to enter the country. And it also was questionable whether Trump has the legal authority. The asylum clause of the Immigration and Nationality Act says that anyone who arrives to the U.S. may apply for asylum. And any change would almost certainly be immediately challenged in court.
Trump was to make his announcement during brief remarks Thursday afternoon, according to three people familiar with the plans. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly by name.
The administration has been discussing various options to address the caravans for days and it was possible that things could change before Trump’s 4:15 p.m. remarks “on the illegal immigration crisis” before he departs the White House for a campaign rally in Missouri.
The announcement would be Trump’s latest attempt to keep the issue of immigration front-and-center as he tries to drum up GOP enthusiasm in the final stretch before next Tuesday’s elections, which will determine whether the GOP retains control of Congress. Trump and his aides have long believed immigration is key to turning out his base, and he has seized on the caravans of Central American migrants slowly making their way through Mexico toward the U.S.
The president announced on Wednesday that he was considering deploying up to 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexican border in response to the still far-off caravans — roughly double the number the Pentagon said it currently plans for a mission whose dimensions are shifting daily. And he has threatened that those who do enter will be housed in “tent cities” he plans to build while their cases are processed.
Jill Colvin and Colleen Long of the Associated Press contributed to the contents of this report.