The Donald Trump administration wants to charge poor immigrants a fee to apply for asylum protection in the United States, sources close to the administration told Buzzfeed News.
“NEW: The Trump administration is considering charging immigrants a fee to apply for asylum protections in the US, according to sources close to the administration.”
NEW: The Trump administration is considering charging immigrants a fee to apply for asylum protections in the US, according to sources close to the administration https://t.co/Jjv0GpmpT1
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) December 4, 2018
The ridiculous and cruel proposal appears in a draft regulation which has not been approved and finalized. The new rule would charge asylum applicants, if they are already residing in the United States, a fee of $50 for the privilege of applying for asylum protections.
Right now there is no fee charged for immigrants to submit what is called an “affirmative asylum” application. The proposed new fee would not apply to those who claim a fear of persecution at ports of entry, or to those who apply for the protections while in deportation proceedings.
However, there would be no waiver of the asylum application fee for people who can’t afford to pay the $50. This brought some strong criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who tweeted:
“If someone is fleeing torture, violence, or persecution and seeking refuge in the United States, it should make no difference whether or not they have $50 for an application fee.”
If someone is fleeing torture, violence, or persecution and seeking refuge in the United States, it should make no difference whether or not they have $50 for an application fee. https://t.co/Loc0uN4N2d
— ACLU (@ACLU) December 5, 2018
Over 300,000 asylum cases are currently being considered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency in charge of the asylum process. Last year alone more than 100,000 people applied for asylum protections through the agency.
The Trump administration has said that it believes the asylum process is often abused, and changes must be made. Advocates for immigrants, however, say that the proposed changes are illegal and inhumane.
Changes such as restricting who qualifies for asylum and a ban on anyone who crossed the border without authorization from receiving asylum, are also being considered by Trump and his advisers.
It is highly unusual for countries to charge a fee for asylum applications.
Ur Jaddou, a former chief counsel at USCIS and current director of the advocacy organization DHS Watch, said:
“People will say, ‘$50? What’s $50?’ but that’s not the point. Seeking asylum is not something people are doing voluntarily. It flies in the face of what asylum and refugee requests are.”
“These are people fleeing something and looking for protection from us … for us to turn around and say ‘that’s nice, we’d like to help but you’d have to pay a fee’ seems contrary to the point.”
The proposals to charge money to apply for asylum has outraged many immigration attorneys.
Juan Camilo Mendez Guzman, an immigration attorney with Pangea Legal Services, said:
“The reason we don’t charge for asylum applications is intuitive. Even if it keeps one person from being able to apply, is that what we are about? We are going to put a dollar amount on not getting sent back to a place of persecution? It’s crazy.”
Sarah Pierce, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, said that the proposal is just one more way for the Trump administration to attempt to harm asylum applicants:
“It is true that bad actors have taken advantage of our backlogged asylum system, and that it is important to address the weaknesses that allow that to happen, but taking steps that punish legitimate asylum-seekers is not the way to go.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.