President Trump today issued a presidential proclamation that requires migrants over the next 90 days to "lawfully present themselves" at a port of entry in order to apply for asylum. During that period, those crossing the border illegally will not be allowed to apply for asylum. He said he is taking immediate action “to protect the national interest, and to maintain the effectiveness of the asylum system.”

The following are excerpts from the proclamation:

“The United States expects the arrival at the border…of a substantial number of aliens primarily from Central America…They are traveling in large, organized groups through Mexico and reportedly intend to enter the United States unlawfully or without proper documentation and to seek asylum, despite the fact that, based on past experience, a significant majority will not be eligible for or be granted that benefit.  Many entered Mexico unlawfully — some with violence — and have rejected opportunities to apply for asylum and benefits in Mexico.  The arrival of large numbers of aliens will contribute to the overloading of our immigration and asylum system and to the release of thousands of aliens into the interior of the United States.  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.  

“Other presidents have taken strong action to prevent mass migration.  In Proclamation 4865 of September 29, 1981, in response to an influx of Haitian nationals traveling to the United States by sea, President Reagan suspended the entry of undocumented aliens from the high seas...In Executive Order 12807 of May 24, 1992, in response to a dramatic increase in the unlawful mass migration of Haitian nationals to the United States, President Bush ordered additional measures to interdict such Haitian nationals and return them to their home country.  The Supreme Court upheld the legality of those measures in Sale v. Haitian Centers Council, Inc., 509 U.S. 155 (1993).

“I am similarly acting to suspend, for a limited period, the entry of certain aliens in order to address the problem of large numbers of aliens traveling through Mexico to enter our country unlawfully or without proper documentation.  I am tailoring the suspension to channel these aliens to ports of entry, so that, if they enter the United States, they do so in an orderly and controlled manner instead of unlawfully…(A)liens who enter the United States unlawfully through the southern border in contravention of this proclamation will be ineligible to be granted asylum under the regulation promulgated by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security that became effective earlier today.”  

Under the proclamation, migrants who attempt to enter the country at a port of entry and claim asylum would still be referred to asylum adjudicators who would consider their credible fear claims. If the credible fear claim is rejected, they'll be put into the expedited removal process. Migrants who enter the country illegally and are apprehended would be put into expedited removal proceedings where they'll go before an immigration judge. At that time, they'll still be able to claim a fear of persecution or torture, but they will have a higher burden of proof than the "credible fear" standard. If the judge rejects their claim, they will be removed without further review.

President Trump cites as authority for taking these actions the following sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act:

  • Section 212(f), which states, “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”
  • Section 215(a), which states, “Unless otherwise ordered by the President, it shall be unlawful for any alien to depart from or enter or attempt to depart from or enter the United States except under such reasonable rules, regulations, and orders, and subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President may prescribe.”

Read the presidential proclamation and related fact sheet.

Updated: Fri, Nov 23rd 2018 @ 12:10pm EST