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The Trump administration has proposed a regulation that would deliver its biggest blow to the US asylum system yet, vastly expanding immigration officials’ authority to turn away migrants. If enacted, it would all but close America’s doors to asylum seekers — a signature policy for a president desperately trying to rally his base in an election year.

The regulation, which was announced Wednesday, would allow immigration officials to discard asylum seekers’ applications as “frivolous” without so much as a hearing, and make it impossible for victims of gang-related and gender-based violence to obtain protection in the US. It would also refuse asylum to anyone coming from a country other than Canada or Mexico, or who does not arrive on a direct flight to the US, as well as anyone who has failed to pay taxes, among other provisions.

President Donald Trump has been working to dismantle the asylum system for years, but this latest regulation is part of an election-year push to curtail immigration. In recent months and under the pretext of responding to the coronavirus pandemic, his administration has closed the US-Mexico border, begun rapidly returning asylum seekers arriving on the southern border to Mexico, and issued a temporary ban on the issuance of new green cards — policies that are now being challenged in court.

He is also expected to soon impose new restrictions on work-based visas with the stated purpose of protecting jobless Americans.

These policies had already made it exceedingly difficult for asylum seekers to apply for and obtain protections amid the pandemic. The administration’s latest regulation would make it all but impossible.

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