Trump orders changes to asylum case handling

Trump proposes an application fee for asylum-seekers

Trump Announces Immigration Asylum Changes

NEW YORK-President Donald Trump on April 29 ordered executive branch officials to come up with regulations to toughen the asylum system by streamlining court proceedings, requiring fees to apply for asylum, and prohibiting those who entered the country illegally from obtaining work permits.

"Seeking asylum is a right under US and global law - not a privilege to pay for", said Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona.

The memo outlined other changes including charging asylum seekers to file work permit applications, and barring people who enter the U.S. illegally - or attempt to - from receiving temporary work permits before being approved for relief.

As part of the memo, Mr. Trump is giving officials 90 days to come up with new regulations to ensure that applications are adjudicated within 180 days of filing, except under exceptional circumstances.

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The U.S. attorney general has already the authority to require asylum applicants to pay fees, but there is now no charge, the Washington Post explains. President Trump has called for measures to close what he calls the asylum "loophole" amid a spike in border crossings. Work permits would be revoked completely for those who crossed the border illegally until their asylum claims are adjudicated.

FILE - President Donald Trump speaks to the media outside the White House, April 27, 2019.

"If the Democrats don't give us the votes to change our weak, ineffective and unsafe Immigration Laws, we must fight hard for these votes in the 2020 Election!"

In December, however, a Washington D.C. District court judge struck down the policy change and ordered the government to bring back six deported asylum seekers who sued the administration seeking reconsideration.

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USA law already directs the Justice Department to finish asylum cases within six months, but with a backlog of more than 800,000 cases, asylum claims often take years to come to a conclusion.

Other proposals in the letter include that all immigration cases being carried out in court be completed within 180 days.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr recently issued a ruling that allows asylum seekers who cross the border illegally to be held without bond as they challenge their deportation - a decision affecting perhaps tens of thousands of migrants.

In March, there were more than 92,000 arrests of undocumented migrants for illegal entry on the southern border, up from 37,390 in March 2018 - the majority of whom were families, according to data from Customs and Border Protection.

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Some immigration activists have condemned the latest move by the Trump administration, including Michelle Brané, the director of migrant rights and justice at the Women's Refugee Commission. Immigration courts have been overwhelmed with asylum cases as the number of migrants appearing at the southern border continues to surge.

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