Asylum Seekers Face Tough New Restraints

By Shani Saxon Apr 30, 2019

Asylum seekers at the Mexican border could soon face application fees and work permit restraints, thanks to new restrictions ordered by President Trump on Monday (April 29), according to a report in The New York Times

In another move to shift asylum laws, Trump sent a memo to Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Attorney General William P. Barr, The Times reports. He explained that he wants all asylum cases currently stalled in the congested immigration courts to be resolved within 80 days. Trump also directed DHS to begin including application fees and work restraints when migrants apply for asylum in the U.S. Additionally, any migrants who previously entered the U.S. illegally would not be permitted to receive a work permit “until their claims are adjudicated,” reports The Times. These policy changes, however, will not take effect immediately. 

Per The Times: 


Mr. Trump gave administration officials 90 days to draw up regulations that would carry out his orders. They would be among the first significant changes to asylum policy since Mr. McAleenan replaced Kirstjen Nielsen as head of homeland security and the president signaled he would take a tougher stance on the asylum seekers swamping the border.

The president’s memo failed to explain how the new asylum regulations would actually be carried out, according to The Times. However, Michelle Brané, director of Migrant Rights and Justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, tells The Times that ramifications from these new policies could be devastating. “There’s a reason that we give people work permits while they are waiting for asylum,” she said. “[It’s] so that they can support themselves and don’t have to be depending on government assistance during that time.”

Per The Times: 


More than 103,000 migrants crossed the southwestern border in March without authorization, an increase from the more than 76,000 who crossed in February. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, is currently housing more than 50,000 migrants, one of the highest numbers on record, and about 5,000 more than the congressionally mandated limit of 45,274.

Brané insists these new restrictions have the potential to turn “asylum on its head.” Forcing people who are fleeing violence and/or persecution to pay a fee is, according to Brané, the Trump administration’s attempt at “reducing the number of people who can access the system as opposed to reducing the need for asylum by addressing root causes.”