Trump proposing fee for asylum seekers at southern border

Trump proposes an application fee for asylum-seekers

On Monday, President Donald Trump imposed new restrictions on asylum-seekers and people who cross the border illegally.

The move comes as an influx of Central American migrants continues to flood the system. In a new trend, the aliens are arriving as family units with children.

In a presidential memorandum signed Monday, Mr. Trump directed his attorney general and acting homeland security secretary to take additional measures to overhaul the asylum system, which he insists "is in crisis" and plagued by "rampant abuse".

In the letter, Trump says Barr and McAleenan should act on the new policies within 90 days. More than 850,000 cases are now lodged in the court system with an average wait time of two years.

"The objective of this memorandum is to strengthen asylum procedures to safeguard our system against rampant abuse of our asylum process", the memo read.

Trump also ordered officials to come up with a way for asylum claims to be adjudicated in immigration court in 180 days. They are likely part of his deterrence strategy, made infamous by his "zero tolerance policy", which endeavored to prosecute every adult who crossed the border illegally and soon led to family separations. The number of people who crossed the border last month-more than 103,000-was at its highest peak in more than a decade.

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The new restrictions will nearly certainly be challenged in federal court. Migrants who have entered or tried to enter the US illegally, including those seeking asylum, would also be barred from receiving work authorization while their case is adjudicated.

"T$3 he idea that we will charge asylum seekers a fee to seek refuge from persecution, torture, or death is offensive and counter to our values", the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted.

The order calls for setting a fee to file an asylum claim or apply for a work permit.

In the memo, the President also cites his national emergency declaration, which allowed him to circumvent Congress and unlock money to build his signature border wall. Many asylum protections are codified in US and global law. Advocates say that has pushed more large groups into the hands of smugglers who drop them off at illegal entry points with instructions to turn themselves into border agents. "But they have to come in legally".

Yet many of his administration's ideas have been hindered by legal, practical and political obstacles. USA immigration courts are notoriously backlogged, and it's not clear whether the proposed changes would also provide additional resources as they aim to speed up the courts' work. But it would require a substantial investment in the system, which now relies on approximately 400 judges to wade through the hundreds of thousands of cases that are rapidly piling up. The Washington Post, the New York Times, NBC News and Politico have coverage.

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