US President Donald Trump ratcheted up his anti-immigrant rhetoric on Thursday ahead of next week's mid-term elections, warning that the 15,000 US troops he is deploying at the country's southern border could shoot at the migrant caravan if they threw rocks at soldiers as they reportedly did when they crossed into Mexico from Central America.
In a series of TV interviews Mr Trump said, without citing evidence, that the caravans of migrants travelling through Central America were "a lot larger than it's reported", adding they were "no angels".
It is not clear whether the plan would pass legal muster. I would like to remind President Trump that U.S. law states very clearly that it does not matter where or how people seeking safe haven enter the country - they are allowed to apply for asylum.
The president's idea to limit asylum seekers to those who have arrived at designated ports of entry could particularly impact those in the most risky circumstances, notes Geoffrey Hoffman, director of University of Houston Law Center's Immigration Clinic. "This is totally legal". He repeated his vow to indefinitely lock up asylum-seekers while they pursue immigration claims, and claimed that "almost everybody" is abusing the system rather than pursuing legitimate efforts.
On another immigration front, Trump said this week he would seek to scrap the constitutional right of citizenship for USA -born children of non-citizens and illegal immigrants, saying he would issue an executive order on so-called birthright citizenship. We have a lot of tents. They're going to stay with us until the deportation hearing or the asylum hearing takes place.
They say they are fleeing persecution, poverty and violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Immigrant rights groups are expected to challenge any limits placed on access to asylum.
The issue is likely to come to a head when a caravan of several thousand Central Americans now heading north through Mexico arrives at the USA border. The main group of about 4,000 migrants - down from its estimated peak of more than 7,000 - remains in southern Mexico, hundreds of miles from the border. They point to a pilot program that was highly successful at getting immigrants to show up in court before it was canceled by the Trump administration.More news: Oprah: 'Not Trying to Test Any Waters' With Abrams Speeches
President Donald Trump has ordered USA troops to the Mexican border in response to the caravans of migrants.
Trump also tweeted a video Wednesday alleging Democrats were responsible for allowing a homicidal immigrant into the USA but provided no evidence supporting that claim.
Trump's actions and statements come days after a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 people dead.
The migrant caravan set off on 12 October with a plan to trek for more than a month.
Trump's half-hour remarks were chock-full of off-base claims about his own record on immigration, and about former President Barack Obama's. Troops can't arrest people at the border. They're going to be very nice, and they're going to wait and if they don't get asylum, they get out. "They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back", Trump said during a White House press conference about immigration.
But the government has been flummoxed by what Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, calls the "asylum gap": the inability to stop people from making false claims for asylum and living legally in the US for years while their cases proceed.