Originally published by CNN
The administration was working Thursday to finalize immigration executive actions President Donald Trump first previewed ahead of the midterm elections that would limit the number of asylum seekers entering the United States.
An effort was underway to complete the language and prepare the documents for the President to sign by Friday morning, before he leaves for Paris, according to a senior administration official.
It was not clear, however, if the language will be ready by then. Officials from various agencies met Wednesday to work through the document and the signing plans were still fluid on Thursday morning, according to the official.
A White House official said the tentative goal is to roll out a joint Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security rule on Thursday afternoon and then issue a presidential proclamation on Friday morning, but without a formal signing event.
The executive action, if it materializes, is still expected to alter the process by which migrants can apply for asylum, including where they can make their claims.
Trump first revealed plans to take unilateral steps during a rambling and detail-free speech from the White House last week. Warning of a crisis at the southern border, Trump’s remarks were viewed as a political stunt days before the midterms.
Since Tuesday’s vote — which saw Democrats take control of the House but Republicans retain control of the Senate — the President hasn’t mentioned the immigration orders or tweeted about the migrant caravan that formed his campaign closing argument.
A White House aide told CNN ahead of Trump’s remarks last week the President would unveil an executive action requiring migrants to request asylum at legal points of entry and preventing them from claiming asylum if they are caught crossing the border illegally. Although the President referenced such a policy in his speech, he offered no defense of how such a plan, once finalized, could be legal, given laws presently allowing migrants the right to claim asylum once they are on American soil.
The Trump administration has been looking at ways to limit the number of asylum seekers, with the President and his allies often describing asylum as a “loophole.”
The Immigration and Nationality Act says 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.”
CNN has also reported the administration is considering a plan to limit the number of migrants able to enter at legal ports of entry by “metering,” essentially creating a waitlist to allow people to enter only if the Department of Homeland Security has the capacity to process and detain them at one of its facilities, a department official said.
In the past, the practice of metering has resulted in individuals deciding not to endure a lengthy wait to try to get into the country legally and instead to cross illegally. Should some of this group of migrants do the latter, they could face a tougher and higher standard for seeking asylum under the administration’s plans.