WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced a plan for sweeping changes to the US asylum process Monday evening in a memo for the attorney general and homeland security secretary.
The document outlines a series of measures to address the situation along the border. They include: adjudicating asylum applications within 180 days of filing; requiring a fee for asylum applications and work permit applications; and barring migrants who have entered or attempted to enter the US illegally from receiving work authorization before any relief or protection is granted.
Taken together, the proposed changes take direct aim at migrants seeking asylum.
Trump has repeatedly railed against the nation’s immigration system, accusing migrants of taking advantage of what he’s deemed legal loopholes. DHS has previously reported a 2,000% increase in migrants claiming credible fear, the first step in the asylum process, over the last five years.
The measures outlined in the memo would likely make it harder to apply for asylum by slapping a fee on applications and keeping some from working legally in the US “before any applicable application for relief or protection from removal has been granted.” It also notes that work authorization is to be stripped from migrants who are denied asylum or subject to a final order of removal.
The memo says the attorney general and homeland security secretary are to take actions within 90 days. The Department of Justice oversees the nation’s immigration courts.
“The purpose of this memorandum is to strengthen asylum procedures to safeguard our system against rampant abuse of our asylum process,” it reads.
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. “That emergency continues to grow increasingly severe,” it reads.
Border apprehensions have continued to increase. It’s not only the uptick in illegal border crossings that’s raised issues for the Department of Homeland Security, however; it’s also the shift in population — from single men to families and children predominantly from Northern Triangle countries.
In March, there were more than 92,000 arrests of undocumented migrants for illegal entry on the southern border, up from 37,390 in March 2018 — the majority of whom were families, according to data from Customs and Border Protection.