The plan could make it impossible for some refugees to even apply for asylum in the U.S.
President Donald Trump is ordering his administration to restructure asylum processes, making it more difficult for refugees to immigrate to the United States.
Not surprisingly, Trump’s proposals have already attracted criticism from Democrats and immigration advocates. National Public Radio reports that some legislators have claimed the move—which mandates new fees for asylum applications, among other changes—may be illegal.
“Seeking asylum is a right under U.S. and international law—not a privilege to pay for,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).
New York Magazine and the Intelligencer have called the policies “petty harassment.” It is, at the very least, an escalation in the Trump administration’s war on migrants. It also coincides with former Vice President Joe Biden’s formal entry into the 2020 field of prospective Democratic candidates.
And Trump, more than anything, insists that Obama engineered a crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border by allowing weak laws to pass Congress and be implemented.
If the Democrats don’t give us the votes to change our weak, ineffective and dangerous Immigration Laws, we must fight hard for these votes in the 2020 Election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2019
“If the Democrats don’t give us the votes to change our weak, ineffective and dangerous Immigration Laws, we must fight hard for these votes in the 2020 Election!” Trump wrote on Twitter shortly after the White House announced adjustments to asylum policies.
Trump’s new guidance would, among other things, require the Department of Homeland Security to “improve the integrity” of credible fear determinations, which evaluate the likelihood an asylum-seeker would face violence or persecution if deported or turned back across the border. It would also expedite the deportation of migrants who’ve already been served final orders of removal.
NPR notes that Trump has been often mocked the entire asylum system, saying it’s a “loophole” that allows unqualified aliens to remain in the U.S. indefinitely.
However, Trump’s well-known views on immigration have been frequently challenged with lawsuits and protracted litigation. Intelligencer speculates that the president is testing the limits of federal judges by usurping powers that’ve long been left to the legislature.
But for immigration advocates, the latest proposal is yet another step too far.
“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,” wrote the American Civil Liberties Union in a tweet.
NPR notes that the Immigration and Nationality Act ‘already includes a provision that permits the U.S. to impose fees on foreign nationals seeking asylum or work authorization.’ Of course, the circumstances which propel many to the border are an entanglement of social and economic. Without qualifying provisions, levying extra charges for asylum applications would only serve to further alienate people fleeing from violence.
Today, asylum-seekers from Latin America tend to come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. These Central American nations are at the epicenter of an ongoing gang crisis; many asylum-seekers claim to have fled the demands of organized criminal syndicates, which are quick to violently retaliate against those who refuse their demands.
Ironically, the Trump administration’s aggressive stance on immigration may serve only serve to bolster it: the White House recently cut aid to Central America. That decision, as much as any other, is likely to exacerbate the same socioeconomic conditions which compel asylum-seekers to leave in the first place.