Nov 9, 2019

Trump admin pushes new fees for asylum seekers, citizen applicants

A Mexican asylum seeker showers in an encampment on Oct. 30, as she waits to seek asylum in the U.S. Photo: Reuters/Veronica G. Cardenas

The Trump administration proposed increasing fees on Friday for those seeking asylum in the U.S., as well as for some Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applicants.

What's happening: If enacted, the proposal would increase the cost to apply for U.S. citizenship. As part of a crackdown on low-income immigrants, the Trump administration has also proposed penalizing those who use or are likely to use public benefits like food stamps or housing assistance.

By the numbers:

  • DACA recipients would pay an additional $275 every two years to renew their legal permits under the new DHS proposal, in addition to the $495 required for filing.
  • Asylum seekers would pay a $50 application fee for the first time under the proposal, the Wall Street Journal reports — making the U.S. "one of the few countries in the world to attach a fee to humanitarian protections."
  • Those applying to become U.S. citizens would pay $1,170 to apply, instead of $640, per the proposal — an 83% price increase.
  • Asylum applicants "with incomes under the federal poverty line" would pay a higher citizenship fee under the new proposal, per the WSJ.

What they're saying: The proposal says the asylum application fee and price increase aim to mitigate fee hikes of other immigration benefits.

“[T]he adjudication of immigration applications and petitions requires in-depth screening, incurring costs that must be covered by the agency, and this proposal accounts for our operational needs and better aligns our fee schedule with the costs of processing each request."
— Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS, in a statement on Friday

Background: President Trump has demanded that citizens and legal residents who sponsor immigrants in the U.S. pay the government back for any public benefits used by the sponsored immigrants.

  • The $50 asylum fee "wouldn’t apply to most migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and asking for protection," per the WSJ.
  • DHS' proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register and open to public comment on Nov. 14, and its effective date won't be public until then. Many rules are effective a minimum of 30 days after going in Federal Register.

Go deeper: Trump's welfare crackdown targets immigrants

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Trump could begin deporting asylum-seekers to Honduras by 2020

A section of the southwest border. Photo: Daniel Woolfolk/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration could begin sending some Central American immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to Honduras by January 2020, although the details of the agreement are still being worked out, BuzzFeed News' Hamed Aleaziz reports.

Why it matters: The asylum agreements with Central American nations signed since the summer by former acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan are beginning to take effect. They could force people fleeing their homes to seek asylum in neighboring nations where there are often weak asylum systems, severe poverty and high crime rates.

Go deeperArrowNov 25, 2019

U.S. sends first Honduran asylum seeker sent to Guatemala

Dozens of people seen waiting to enter the U.S. on the Northern side of the International Bridge over the Rio Grande, in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, Mexico. Photo: LEXIE HARRISON-CRIPPS/AFP via Getty Images

The first Honduran migrant was sent to Guatemala on Thursday to pursue his asylum case, the AP reports, kicking off a "landmark" Trump administration policy.

Flashback: Guatemala signed a "safe third country" agreement in July, agreeing to take in more Central American asylum seekers in an effort to slow migration in the U.S. The policy mostly impacts immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador whose routes to the U.S. go through Guatemala. Thousands of Guatemalans left the country last year to seek asylum in the U.S., Al Jazeera notes.

Go deeperArrowNov 22, 2019

Top immigration officials defend Trump's remain in Mexico plan

In separate interviews for "Axios on HBO," two top immigration officials defended the Trump administration's so-called "remain in Mexico" plan.

  • Mark Morgan and Ken Cuccinelli told "Axios on HBO" that it's meant to ease bureaucratic burdens on the U.S. and prevent the "catch and release situation" where asylum-seekers would be released into the interior of the U.S.
Go deeperArrowNov 11, 2019