Trump administration proposes fee for asylum applications, spike in other immigration fees

Trump administration proposes fee for asylum applications, spike in other immigration fees
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The Trump administration proposed implementing a set of fees for migrants seeking to remain in the U.S. or to gain citizenship, including those fleeing as asylum seekers. 

The proposed rule will have a monthlong comment period. If implemented, It will increase citizenship fees more than 60 percent, to $1,170 up from $725, according to The New York Times. The government would also begin charging asylum seekers $50 for applications and $490 for work permits.

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The move would make the U.S. one of four nations in the world to charge people for asylum.

A USCIS spokesperson specified in a statement to The Hill that the proposed fee would apply to asylum seekers through the "affirmative process," or those who are physically in the U.S. seeking asylum — not those requesting asylum while in the process of being removed from the country.
 
USCIS added that "it costs the agency $366 in adjudication costs to process each petition alone, with a grand total of nearly $1,800 including overhead; thus the new $50 fee represents a fraction of what it actually costs the government." 

The proposed rule would also spike renewal fees for participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA recipients, or “Dreamers” would pay $765 rather than $495 for a request to renew their status. 

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services said in a Friday statement that “current fees would leave the agency underfunded by approximately $1.3 billion per year.”

“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures, just like a business, and make adjustments based on that analysis. This proposed adjustment in fees would ensure more applicants cover the true cost of their applications and minimizes subsidies from an already over-extended system,” said Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS said in the Friday statement.

“Furthermore, the 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,” he continued. 

Alongside the fee increases, the proposed rule would also eliminate the fee waivers that the agency offers to some migrants undergoing financial hardship.

The policy also says some of the funds will pay for a more than $207 million transfer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency in charge of deporting and detaining immigrants. The rule states that the activities of both agencies “constitute support of immigration adjudication and naturalization services.”

The proposed rule was immediately attacked by immigration advocates. Melissa Rodgers, the director of programs at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco, told The New York Times that the rule is “a pattern of attack” by the Trump administration blocking some migrants from becoming citizens.

“It’s saying if you aren’t wealthy, you are not welcome here,” she said. 

Last month, a federal judge blocked another one of the Trump’s administration’s immigration rules, the “public charge” rule linking a migrant’s legal status to their use of public benefits. The move forced a temporary injunction against the rule, that immigration advocates also say targets poor migrants.

-- Updated at 4:40 p.m.