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Photo: Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

The Justice Department is drafting a rule that would prevent immigrants who are criminally prosecuted for crossing the border illegally from being granted asylum, and increase scrutiny toward Central American asylum seekers, reports Vox's Dara Lind, who saw a draft of the rule.

Why it matters: Attorney General Jeff Sessions implemented the zero-tolerance policy in order to deter immigrants from unlawfully crossing the border, and instead incentivize them to apply for asylum at legal ports of entry. But this approach takes that strategy to a whole new level.

  • If this draft became regulation, it would likely face legal pushback. Leon Fresco, a former DOJ immigration lawyer, told Axios it would be illegal to prevent someone from obtaining asylum simply because they crossed the border without permission.

What's next: The draft is being evaluated and, once finalized, will be posted in the Federal Registrar no fewer than 90 days before the regulation is official, according to Vox.

The impact, per Vox:

  • The new rule would make victims of domestic or gang violence unlikely to qualify for asylum.
  • It would disqualify any immigrants who present themselves to border patrol agents in between the legal ports of entry — a common way for asylum-seekers to make their claims.
    • As of right now, even the immigrants who have been criminally charged with improper entry into the U.S. under Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "zero-tolerance" policy can claim asylum after their criminal hearings. The proposed rule would end that chance.
  • It would limit the appeals of asylum seekers who fail their "credible fear" interview and reject incomplete applications.
  • It would make the question of how an asylum-seeker got into the U.S., and whether they spent more than 2 weeks in a different country before applying for asylum, an important factor in immigration judges' decisions.
    • Why this matters: This is something administration officials have advocated for in calls with reporters, especially during the furor over a Central American "caravan" of immigrants moving toward the U.S. border. Their argument is, essentially, if someone is really desperate enough to claim asylum, they should do so in the first country they pass through.

The bottom line: This is just a draft rule, and will likely go through some changes before we see the final version. If enacted, the regulation would make the asylum-seeking process much faster, but at the the price of denying many more claims.

Go deeper

39 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Inside Biden's Taiwan flubs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Twice this year, President Biden has blurted out commitments that the U.S. is prepared to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion — forcing the White House to walk back his statements and leading to confusion over a high-stakes national security policy.

Why it matters: U.S. defense officials have publicly aired their concerns that China will take Taiwan by force in the next four to six years, perhaps sooner. The president's position on this question may soon have real-world, life and death consequences.