The new rules are subject to a presidential proclamation expected Friday in which Trump will invoke the same justification he did for the travel ban. They are now about 600 miles away. Immigrants would have to apply for asylum status at designated points of entry, and those already in the country illegally would not be able to apply.
Once the plan goes into full effect, migrants entering at the USA southern border would be eligible for asylum only if they report at official ports of entry, officials said. "It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree", Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, responded in in a statement.
This summer, multiple news outlets reported that hundreds of migrants who had legally presented themselves to USA agents at official ports of entry, like San Ysidro, California and El Paso, Texas, were told that their asylum requests could not be processed.
"Today's rule applies this important principle to aliens who violate such a suspension or restriction regarding the southern border", Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker said. More than 7,000 active duty troops could eventually be deployed, Defense Department officials said.
Many politicians on both sides of the aisle agree that the U.S. immigration system is hugely inefficient and unable to cope with demand.
Immigration was a major focus in President Trump's 2018 mid-term election campaign.
Trump made his hard-line policies toward immigration a key issue ahead of Tuesday's midterm elections, sending thousands of USA troops to help secure the southern border and repeatedly drawing attention to caravans of Central American migrants trekking through Mexico toward the United States.
He called a current caravan, which is still hundreds of miles from the U.S. border and dwindling in numbers, an "invasion" and said it would bring hardened criminals to U.S. streets.
Officials say the new policy is grounded in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.
Less than 10 per cent of cases result in asylum being granted, the government says.
Those seeking asylum must be fleeing due to a serious fear of persecution.
"Those who enter the country between ports are knowingly and voluntarily breaking the law", one unnamed official told reporters, the Post reported.
That way, he said, courts will "handle those claims in an expeditious and efficient manner, so that those who do actually require an asylum protection get those protections". It's unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally.
In 2017, the USA fielded more than 330,000 asylum claims, almost double the number two years earlier and surpassing Germany as highest in the world.