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Another Wall for Immigration Law - Asylum Seekers Must Pay Application Fees

Road next to a fence in a  clear day.
By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 17, 2019

If numbers mean anything, President Trump is losing the battle against immigrants crossing the border. In recent months, more people crossed the border en masse than had entered at any time in the past decade. More than 103,000 made it across in March, alone.

But if the law means anything, Trump is winning the immigration war. His latest counter-measure is to charge asylum seekers fees and to deny them work permits while they wait for immigration proceedings. It won't be an actual wall, but it will slow things down just like a physical barrier.

Slowing Down

According to reports, immigrants are waiting nearly two years for a hearing. About 400 judges are handing the cases with a growing backlog of 850,000 applications. Some immigrants have waited a decade.

In his new directive, Trump also ordered that asylum applicants have their cases adjudicated within 180 days -- absent exceptional circumstances. That's in accordance with existing law, he noted. "The purpose of this memorandum is to strengthen asylum procedures to safeguard our system against rampant abuse of our asylum process," he said.

Keren Zwick, representing the National Immigrant Justice Center, told the Washington Post that she fears the new directive will be unfair to immigrants. They will be short on time and money. "There's a fine line between quick adjudication and being railroaded through the system," she said.


The ABA Journal reported that the new directive is "one of many immigration measures by Trump that's leading to court battles." Most recently, he declared a national emergency to obtain funds for a border wall. He also ordered asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while they wait for asylum proceedings.

Trump's travel ban, however, has been the most litigated. After various courts issued injunctions against the ban, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the president. The justices disregarded claims that Trump exceeded his authority in ordering the travel ban. Section 1182(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows the president to block noncitizens from entering the United States as long as he determines their entry "would be detrimental to the interests of the United States," the Supreme Court said.

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