President Trump is reportedly weighing proposals to effectively close the U.S. southern border to Central American migrants, including those attempting to use their legal right to asylum.
Numerous media reports have cited anonymous government sources saying that Trump plans to take executive action or push regulatory changes that would make it more difficult for a caravan of about 3,000 Central American migrants to seek entry to the United States if they reach the border — even if they’re seeking refuge from violence or abuse.
The caravan is more than 1,000 miles south of the U.S., and it’s unclear when migrants might arrive. But already, Trump has said he’ll deploy up to 1,000 active-duty Army troops to help secure the border.
"The administration is considering a wide range of administrative, legal and legislative options to address the Democrat-created crisis of mass illegal immigration," an anonymous senior administration official told ABC News and Politico. "No decisions have been made at this time. Nor will we forecast to smugglers or caravans what precise strategies will or will not be deployed."
A proclamation on the plan could come as soon as Tuesday, according to the New York Times, and could cite national security reasons as the foundation for barring foreigners from entering the country. Under current rules, people are legally able to seek asylum if they can demonstrate a “credible fear” of going back to their home country. The administration, however, could consider enacting rules that would disqualify some migrants from claiming asylum, according to the Times.
Republicans have used the caravan as a talking point heading into the midterm elections to argue that Democrats are weak on immigration and would allow an unsustainable influx of people to crowd the border. “This could be a blessing in disguise, because it’s showing how bad our laws are,” Trump told USA Today. “The Democrats are totally responsible.”
Democrats and civil rights groups, however, have accused the administration or moral ineptitude.
“It’s disgraceful the Trump administration would even consider what’s being reported. It would mean refusing to protect people who can prove they are fleeing persecution,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement. “That would be a huge moral failure and any plan along these lines will be subject to intense legal scrutiny.”
Cover image: Honduras migrants walk to the U.S as they approach Zacapa, about 70 miles northeast of Guatemala City, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)