A day after his administration set out new rules on how to deal with asylum seekers, President Donald Trump signed a new executive action which would not allow people who enter the United States illegally to ask for asylum, requiring anyone who wants that protection to petition at an official crossing along the southern border with Mexico.
“We need people in our country but they have to come in legally and they have to have merit,” the President said, as he made another move to block those in an immigration “caravan” in Mexico from getting into the U.S.
“They have to come in to our country legally,” Mr. Trump told reporters, just before he boarded Air Force One for a trip to France.
It was clear that the new executive action signed by the President was issued with the ‘caravans’ in mind, as the document started by addressing its possible approach to the border in coming weeks.
“The continuing and threatened mass migration of aliens with no basis for admission into the United States through our southern border has precipitated a crisis and undermines the integrity of our borders,” the President stated.
“I therefore must take immediate action to protect the national interest, and to maintain the effectiveness of the asylum system for legitimate asylum seekers who demonstrate that they have fled persecution and warrant the many special benefits associated with asylum,” he added in the executive action.
Democrats in Congress scoffed at the President’s move, as legal groups said it would likely be challenged in court.
“US law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry,” the ACLU said, as the civil liberties group filed suit by mid-afternoon on Friday against the President’s plan.
“Neither the president nor his cabinet can override the clear commands of our law, but that’s exactly what they’re trying to do,” the ACLU said in a tweet. “We’ll see him in court.”
The lawsuit charged that the President had ignored federal law, which specifically says that people can seek asylum no matter how they get to the United States.
“Consistent with its international obligations, Congress was specific and clear,” the ACLU wrote in its lawsuit. “Entering without inspection is not a basis to categorically deny asylum to refugees.”
The executive order used language similar to that in the revised travel order issued by the President, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
This case may also take a similar route through the courts.