The White House is considering a major executive action to stop a massive caravan of Central American migrants traveling north through Mexico from entering the U.S., according to several reports on Thursday.
The possible executive action draws from the same legal authority as President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban that mostly targeted Muslim-majority countries, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The president will reportedly sign a proclamation linked to the executive action, Politico reported.
The migrants, who number in the thousands and include many women and children, are fleeing poverty and violence in Honduras and Guatemala, and are trekking through Mexico in hopes of reaching the U.S. border.
Despite the Trump administration’s claims that the migrants are trying to enter “illegally,” current U.S. law allows foreign nationals to apply for asylum at a port of entry at the border. However, the reported executive action could suspend that right and prevent migrants from seeking asylum for the sake of national security, according to The Washington Post.
Trump has publicly denounced the caravan and fueled fears about the migrants, claiming that the caravan is filled with “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” seeking to infiltrate the U.S. He later admitted he had no proof of that.
The Department of Defense is also reportedly deploying 800 or more troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to assist with the response to the caravan. That will add to the estimated 2,000 National Guard troops there since April.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an official within the Trump administration told the Post that the action was one of several measures the White House was considering as the caravan, which is reportedly still 1,000 miles away, approaches.
“The Administration is considering a wide range [of] administrative, legal and legislative options to address the Democrat-created crisis of mass illegal immigration,” the official told the paper. “No decisions have been made at this time.”
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen told Fox News on Thursday night that “everything is on the table” in regard to the migrant caravan.
“If they come here illegally with no legitimate reason to stay, they absolutely will be apprehended and removed immediately,” she said, adding that the migrants should seek refuge in Mexico instead.
“This caravan cannot come to the United States,” Nielsen said. “They will not be allowed in. They will not be allowed to stay.”
The executive action would reportedly involve Homeland Security and the Justice Department issuing a rule, effective immediately, that limits foreign nationals’ rights to seek asylum in the U.S. if they are a part of a population banned by Trump, sources familiar with the administration’s plans told the Chronicle.
Trump would then issue a proclamation targeting a specific population ― likely the Central American migrants in the caravan ― according to the Chronicle.