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Venezuelan man seeking asylum in the United States with his daughter at the entrance to the Paso del Norte International Bridge in Ciudad Juárez, at Mexico's border with the U.S. in February. Photo: Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration announced plans on Wednesday for sweeping changes to the U.S. asylum system.

Why it matters: Per Axios' Stef Kight, the proposed new rules would make it much harder for migrants to gain humanitarian protection once the borders that have been closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic reopen — assuming the proposal makes it through the regulatory process.

  • This marks the toughest approach yet to U.S. immigration policy. It expands on a rule introduced by the Trump administration last July that forces migrants fleeing their home countries to apply for asylum in one of the first countries they pass through, or face ineligibility for asylum once they reach the southern border of the U.S.

Details: If implemented after a public comment period, the Rule on Procedures for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, proposed by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, would streamline the asylum application process but prevent most applicants from being entitled to a full court proceeding on their claims.

  • The proposal would enable lower-level asylum officers to rule if an application was "frivolous," therefore, denying the applicant protections in the U.S., a power that currently only resides with the DOJ's Board of Immigration Appeals and immigration judges.
  • Applicant claims of being under threat from terrorists, gangs or "rogue" government officials would be rejected.

Of note: Last month, the Trump administration expelled more than 20,000 people who crossed the border illegally using emergency powers provided by a CDC order, citing the public health threat presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Those individuals include children and asylum-seekers who are usually protected by U.S. law, Axios' Fadel Allassan notes.
  • Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., against the U.S. government over the policy on Tuesday night, on behalf of a 16-year-old boy from Honduras who's awaiting deportation from the United States.

What they're saying: The rule would streamline procedures, allowing for quicker decisions and "eliminate removal delays … that serve no purpose and eliminate the waste of adjudicatory resources currently expended in vain," Justice and Homeland Security officials said, per the Wall Street Journal.

  • Greg Chen, director of government relations for the advocacy group American Immigration Lawyers Association, told NBC News: "The proposed rule is literally the kitchen sink of asylum bans and will end any notion of asylum that still remains, recognizing that this administration has already issued so many previous bans.
"It will short circuit due process in countless ways to make it faster and easier to deport asylum seekers effectively denying them a fair day in court."

Go deeper

Supreme Court denies request to halt construction on Trump border wall

President Trump and the border wall in June. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote on Friday rejected a request from environmental groups to prevent construction of portions of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Why it matters: The ruling lets the administration continue building despite pending appeals to a case on whether the administration can use Defense Department funding for border wall construction.

1 hour ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in U.K.

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Saturday had already reached 65.5% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.