Donald Trump Wants To Charge Asylum Seekers Fees
By Parker Diakite
After calling the United States asylum system a “crisis as a consequence of the mass immigration of aliens across our southern border,” President Donald Trump is calling for his administration to restrict the asylum process for migrants seeking humanitarian protection in the U.S.
In a presidential memorandum issued earlier this week, Trump is proposing charging asylum seekers fees and banning those who entered the U.S. illegally from receiving work permits.
The proposed changes are aimed to “strengthen asylum procedures to safeguard our system against rampant abuse of our asylum process,” Trump said in the memorandum.
Currently, there is no cost for someone to file asylum in the United States, as reported in HuffPost. Immigration experts warn that fees, no matter how small, can prove to be an impossible burden for migrants.
“The majority of people coming to the United States seeking asylum are coming with little more than the shirts on their back,” Victoria Neilson, a former official at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told Reuters.
Human rights advocates have criticized Trump’s memorandum as insensitive and counterproductive.
“The president is continuing his campaign to close our nation to people seeking asylum,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a tweet. “Among other proposals, the idea that we will charge asylum seekers a fee to seek refuge from persecution, torture, or death is offensive and counter to our values.”
“We’ve seen it over and over again, from turning away asylum-seekers at ports of entry, to trying to make those who enter between ports of entry ineligible for asylum, and most recently until now, sending asylum-seekers back to Mexico to wait for their court hearings,” Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told NPR.
“The Trump administration has had their hand slapped numerous times by the courts, and I suspect that this time will be no different.”
In addition to fees, the memo also demands that all asylum applications are adjudicated within 180 days of filing, except those with exceptional circumstances.
As reported in the Washington Post, U.S. law already dictates that asylum cases are adjudicated within that timeframe, but due to an overwhelming number of cases and inadequate resources, asylum seekers often wait years before their claims are processed.