Central Americans seeking asylum boarding a bus in San Antonio, TX.
Photo: Eric Gay/AP

Amid an impending announcement by President Donald Trump regarding changing immigration policy, Politico reported Thursday that the president is considering a separate policy that would block Central American migrants from asking the United States for asylum. The website cited a DHS official and outside advocate familiar with the proposal, while CNN and BuzzFeed News have also confirmed the report.

According to the Politico report, a draft policy being floated by Trump’s Homeland Security advisers proposes that migrants who have resided in a third country—in addition to their country of origin and the U.S.—would be barred from applying for asylum. That proposed change to the asylum process would prevent Central American migrants who have traveled through Mexico to the U.S. from claiming asylum, potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of people. 

An activist briefed on the issue told Politico that the policy would also affect asylum seekers in other parts of the world, not just Central Americans: According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 460,000 people have been processed at the southwest border since October. Under current U.S. law, anyone can apply for asylum regardless of nationality or immigration status.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Trump announced he was going to deliver a “major statement having to do with the border and having to do with people illegally coming over the border” on Friday, though he denied he was closing the border as he has previously threatened. Politico reported that people familiar with the proposal said the president was referring to the asylum changes.

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Sources told CNN, however, that the president isn’t expected to announce asylum changes at that time. According to the Washington Post, Trump will instead announce new tariffs on Mexico if they don’t curb the flow of Central American migrants entering the U.S.

“They won’t give us the legislation. Whether it’s chain migration or whether it’s lottery, they won’t give us any,” Trump said Thursday, referring to Congress. “And the asylum procedures are ridiculous. No place in the world has what we have in terms of ridiculous immigration laws.”

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Reports of the proposal come nearly six months after the Trump administration fully enacted its “remain in Mexico” policy, requiring Central American migrants seeking asylum to return to Mexico and wait 45 days for their court date. The ACLU has legally challenged the policy, though a Ninth Circuit Court has allowed the policy to continue as the government’s appeal goes through the courts. Last week, BuzzFeed News reported that some migrants had been told that they’d have to wait more than a year before their court date.