US President Joe Biden’s administration unveiled a plan that would make it harder for migrants to seek asylum once Covid border controls are lifted in May.
It would require adult asylum seekers to use an app to book a meeting with US officials or to first seek asylum in another country before arriving in the United States.
Failure to comply will render migrants ineligible if they later reach the border.
Pro-immigrant groups have likened the plan to Trump-era politics.
The measure proposed Tuesday is the toughest immigration reduction yet introduced by Biden, a Democrat who took office, promising a more humane approach to the border crisis than his predecessor’s administration.
The proposed rule would only apply to adults and families, but not to unaccompanied children.
Under the plan, migrants will have to use a phone app to schedule an appointment to speak with a US immigration official when they arrive at the border.
Those who fail to make the appointment are presumed to have been found ineligible for asylum in the other countries they have been through.
The proposal — jointly issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of Justice — would allow illegal immigrants to be deported quickly.
If approved, it would be enacted on May 11, when Title 42 — the Trump-era health emergency provision that allows immigrants to be expelled to Mexico — is about to expire.
Biden’s policy will remain in effect for two years, with an option to extend it.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it would sue to prevent the rule from ever being enforced.
The organization compared the plan to measures previously taken by former President Donald Trump that were ruled unconstitutional in the courts.
“This comprehensive ban on asylum will close the door to countless refugees seeking safety and protection in the United States,” said Oxfam America.
But an unnamed Biden administration official told AFP news agency: “This administration will not allow mass chaos and chaos on the border because of the failure of Congress to act.”
The public has 30 days to comment on the draft proposal.
Recent government records show that about 200,000 illegal immigrants attempt to enter the United States each month.
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