Trump proposes an application fee for asylum-seekers

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Numerous changes would be dramatic shifts in how asylum seekers are treated, but would also require time-intensive regulatory procedures before they go into effect, which will likely take months.

US President Donald Trump has directed his administration to charge fees for asylum claims and handle cases within 180 days, the White House said in a statement Monday night. The new changes have been made as Trump eyes re-election in the Presidential polls due to take place in 2020. But seeking asylum, spokesman Charlie Yaxley said, "is a fundamental human right, and people should be allowed to exercise those rights when seeking to seek asylum".

Issued Monday evening, the memo also calls on the Department of Homeland Security to reallocate resources and personnel to deal with asylum claims.

The announcement came as Trump blasted what he described as the United States' "weak, ineffective and dangerous" immigration laws on Twitter.

And he is directing officials to begin charging a fee to process asylum and employment authorization applications, which do not now require payment.

USA law already directs the Justice Department to finish asylum cases within six months, but with a backlog of more than 800,000 cases, asylum claims often take years to come to a conclusion.

Trump administration officials have repeatedly blamed US laws protecting asylum seekers for encouraging fraudulent or non-deserving claims.

Under the current system, asylum seekers who enter the U.S. both legally and illegally are allowed to work while their claims are processed.

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It's too soon to tell exactly how the proposed measures would play out for asylum-seekers, because the actual regulations have yet to be written by the attorney general and DHS. They have labs nearby where they make drugs to sell into the US.

He is also calling on officials to immediately revoke work authorisations when people are denied asylum and ordered their removal from the country.

As it released Trump's memo, the White House included a sheet of statistics and arguments to bolster its case.

Under U.S. law, asylum seekers that have a credible fear of return can seek review in immigration courts.

The United States is facing a growing influx of migrants from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras with more than 1.4 million caught at the southern border after crossing illegally-half a million of them in the past 18 months. 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. Other policy moves have been challenged in federal court.

The vast majority of countries do not charge asylum application fees.

Critics say that fees would put the process out of reach for many people.

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