The Justice Department is considering a regulation that would prevent people from claiming asylum if they're convicted of illegally entering the US, according to two sources familiar with the plans.
Such a rule would be a dramatic change in the landscape of US immigration law and could conflict with domestic law and long-standing international obligations.
The draft regulation was described to CNN as being in its very early stages and has not yet been submitted to the White House for review. Should it be implemented, it would likely result in immediate legal challenges from asylum-seekers and advocates.
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.
The proposal was first reported by Vox.
What the current law does
- It allows migrants to raise an asylum claim at any lawful port of entry to the US, as well as between valid ports of entry where crossing to the US is illegal.
- The Immigration and Nationality Act states that anyone who arrives in the US "whether or not at a designated port of arrival" may apply for asylum if he or she has a "well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion."
Yet another part of the law gives Attorney General Jeff Sessions the leeway to regulate which offenses "will be considered to be a crime," in which case asylum is not available.
How exactly the rule will be tailored and whether it will include any exceptions remains unclear.