Trump says U.S. is finalizing plan to crack down on asylum seekers

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks on immigration and border security in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday the United States is finalizing a plan to deny asylum to people who enter the country outside legal ports of entry, as he hardens his stance against a caravan of migrants traveling from Central America.

“Migrants seeking asylum will have to present themselves lawfully at a port of entry,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“Those who choose to break our laws and enter illegally will no longer be able to use meritless claims to gain automatic admission into our country,” he added.

He did not provide details on whether the plan would apply only to people traveling in the caravans or to anyone seeking to enter the country.

The Immigration and Nationality Act says any immigrant in the United States can apply for asylum, whether or not the immigrant entered the country through a designated port of entry. Trump insisted to reporters the asylum plan would be legal.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by James Dalgleish and Phil Berlowitz