In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, the US administration is pushing to pass tough immigration restrictions including blocking entry to asylum seekers, according to US officials briefed on the plans.
A plan to turn back all migrants seeking asylum would have its most immediate effect on the US-Mexico border. It has run into opposition from several government agencies, in part because of concerns that it would violate US and international law, including treaties on how to deal with refugees and victims of torture.
Officials are working on a plan to deny entry to all asylum seekers, according to multiple sources. That may include a plan to return all illegal border crossers without due process.
US citizens and legal permanent residents will continue to be allowed to enter the US, the official said, adding that the ban won’t apply to cargo shipments. However, it is unclear whether others will be allowed to continue to cross legally.
One official said immigration hardliners have long looked for ways to try to stop asylum seekers from even having their claims heard by immigration officers, and that the coronavirus threat was being used as an excuse to accomplish what they had so far been unable to.