US President Joe Biden’s administration has finalised a new rule that will make most migrants and refugees arriving at the country’s southern border with Mexico in search of protection ineligible to seek asylum in the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Wednesday that the rule, which will disqualify people from seeking asylum in the US if they did not first apply in countries they crossed earlier in their journeys, will go into effect late on Thursday.

That coincides with the expiration of a contentious public health order known as Title 42, which since 2020 has allowed US authorities to expel most people crossing the border without offering them the opportunity to apply for protection.

“This administration has led the largest expansion of legal pathways for protection in decades, and this regulation will encourage migrants to seek access to those pathways instead of arriving unlawfully in the grip of smugglers at the southern border,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.