Trump Directs Officials to Tighten Asylum Rules

April 30, 2019 Updated: April 30, 2019

NEW YORK–President Donald Trump on April 29 ordered executive branch officials to come up with regulations to toughen the asylum system by streamlining court proceedings, requiring fees to apply for asylum, and prohibiting those who enter the country illegally from obtaining work permits.

The order, issued in a presidential memorandum, is the latest effort in a campaign to address the flood of illegal aliens pouring in through the southern border. A large number of aliens claim asylum and are released into the United States.

The proposals Trump called for would significantly change the asylum system. The officials still need to draft the proposed rules, have them approved by the White House, and go through a number of time-consuming regulatory procedures for the changes to take effect.

Trump administration officials blame faulty U.S. asylum laws for encouraging large-scale illegal migration. Under current laws, authorities can hold illegal alien families who claim asylum for only 20 days.

The vast majority of the asylum claims are ultimately deemed meritless. For every 100 aliens claiming a credible fear of persecution, just 12 are eventually granted asylum, according to the White House. Roughly half of those who claim credible fear never actually apply for asylum.

The Proposals

Trump’s memo gives officials from the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security 90 days to come up with the proposals.

The order calls for setting a fee to file an asylum claim or apply for a work permit. Both the asylum application and the work permit are currently free to file.

Trump also ordered officials to come up with a way for asylum claims to be adjudicated in immigration court in 180 days. Current law already requires proceedings to be completed within 180 days, but immigration courts are facing a backlog of over 800,000 cases, with many taking years to complete.

“The provision to process cases in 180 days has been on the books for over two decades,” said Ashley Tabaddor, president of the immigration judges’ union. “The problem is that we have never been given adequate resources to adjudicate those claims in a timely fashion.”

Asylum cases are often complex and involve trauma, and judges should have the discretion to provide more time depending on the case, Tabaddor said.

The president also called on officials to come up with rules that would bar asylum-seekers who entered the country illegally from obtaining work permits until their claims are resolved. The current system allows asylum-seekers to work regardless of how they entered the country.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials apprehended around 100,000 illegal aliens on the southwest border in March, the highest level in more than a decade. In a new trend, the aliens are arriving as family units with children.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement released more than 120,000 aliens from such families into the United States so far this year.

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.

Reuters contributed to this report. Epoch Times writer Petr Svab contributed to this report.

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