Deadlines and fees, just for starters: Trump orders detailed asylum overhaul

(File Photo: screenshot)

President Donald Trump has essentially ordered an overhaul of the asylum process, giving immigration officials 90 days to implement strict new regulations to deal with the “severe” crisis at the border.

The president called for sweeping changes in the asylum system Monday in a memorandum addressed to Attorney General William Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, outlining measures which include charging asylum seekers a fee to file an application.

(File Photo: screenshot)

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

Trump noted the “security and humanitarian crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border and reiterated his national declaration emergency in February to deal with the issue which he said  “continues to grow increasingly severe” as border apprehensions have surged in recent months.

“That emergency continues to grow increasingly severe,” the president’s memo read. “The extensive resources required to process and care for these individuals pulls U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel away from securing our Nation’s borders.”

Last week, the president announced that he is sending “armed soldiers” to the border after a confrontation between members of Mexico’s military and American National Guardsmen, and as even former Obama Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson agreed that the situation on the U.S.-Mexico border as a “crisis by any measure.”

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agents apprehended more than 100,000 migrants in March, either arresting or denying their entry into the U.S., marking a 12-year-high. A backlog of more than 800,000 cases faces immigration courts as well with asylum seekers increasingly staying in the U.S. as they await their cases to be processed.

Trump’s memo on Monday also gave officials 90 days to implement the changes so that asylum applications could be adjudicated within 180 days of filing. A fee for asylum applications and work permit applications was also introduced as one of the measures, along with barring work authorizations for migrants who have entered or attempted to enter the U.S. illegally until they are granted protection or relief. Any work authorizations that have been granted will be revoked if the applicant is denied asylum.

The president called for DHS to reassign immigration officers and any other staff “to improve the integrity of adjudications of credible and reasonable fear claims, to strengthen the enforcement of the immigration laws, and to ensure compliance with the law by those aliens who have final orders of removal.”

Trump told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo that the surge in illegal border crossings has been spurred by a great U.S. economy.

“Everybody wants a piece of it and they’re willing to come up and take the risk and this tremendous danger,” he said by phone, noting the “combination of having a great economy and having the weakest immigration laws anywhere in the world by far.”

Bartiromo spoke to the president from the United States-Mexico border near El Paso, Texas during a special episode of “Sunday Morning Futures” which saw multiple dramatic illegal border crossings that were caught on camera.

The number of “aliens who do not show up to court and are ordered removed in absentia has soared, with 17,200 removal orders issued in absentia in the first quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2019. … If this pace continues, in absentia removal orders would more than triple the 2013 total,” according to the White House, Fox News reported.

“In absentia removal orders are on pace to increase to 17,636 in FY 2019, around 20 times more than the total in FY 2010” for asylum cases originating in a credible fear claim and, since September 2018, “1 out of every 6 family unit cases filed on special expedited dockets at 10 immigration courts has ended with an in absentia removal order,” the White House said.

Frieda Powers

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