Immigration Proposal Increases Wait Time For Asylum Seekers’ Work Permits

The Trump administration is reportedly trying to push forward a proposal that could double the time asylum seekers must wait to obtain a permit to legally work in the US.

The proposal comes from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), BuzzFeed News reported, and has not been finalized. People applying for asylum are currently required to wait 180 days before being granted a work permit; the new proposal would increase that time to 365 days.

“Over the past five years, crises at our southern border have yielded a staggering 220 percent increase in affirmative asylum applications causing significant backlogs, which can be exploited by those seeking economic opportunity in the United States to the detriment of those who truly need asylum,” USCIS Spokeswoman Jessica Collins said in a statement to The North Star. “To strengthen the integrity of the asylum system, US Citizenship and Immigration Services plans to propose regulatory amendments intended to promote greater accountability in the application process for requesting employment authorization and to deter the fraudulent filing of asylum applications for the purpose of obtaining work authorization.”

US immigration officials are working on another proposal that would force asylum seekers to pay a $50 fee if they file for asylum after entering the country, according to BuzzFeed News. In a statement to the publication, Collins said there has been no determination made on that specific proposal.

"USCIS conducted its biennial fee review in accordance with the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and non-statutory guidance to study the agency’s revenue, costs, and needs," Collins told the publication.

Even though the proposal has yet to be made official, it’s still concerning. “We believe this will essentially make a bad problem worse,” Joan Hodges-Wu, founder and executive director of The Asylum Seeker Assistance Project, told The North Star. “It doesn’t make any sense [for] asylum seekers to live in the United States and not give them any means to support themselves for a year.” This is just one of several proposals in the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration policy. A senior administration official told Axios that some of the changes include making the process "more difficult for low-skilled immigrants ... to gain admission," and allowing the government to detain migrant children for longer than 20 days under the Flores Agreement, which set standards for the detainment and release of unaccompanied minors.

The Trump administration also said there is an expectation to accelerate deportations, according to Axios. Last year, ICE deported more than 256,000 people, The Washington Post previously reported. In 2018, the agency deported 145,262 people who were convicted criminals, 22,796 people who had criminal charges pending, according to the Post. The report also found that 2,711 people traveling with families and 5,571 unaccompanied children were deported in 2018. There have also been discussions among Trump’s advisers regarding whether the US military could legally be allowed to be in charge of detention camps for migrants, NBC News reported. Current US law “prohibits the military from directly interacting with migrants,” the report noted.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.