President Trump has issued an executive order to overhaul of the asylum system for foreigners seeking to enter the United States as the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border spirals out of control.
In a memorandum late Monday, Trump ordered government officials, including Attorney General William Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, to propose new regulations to establish new fees for asylum seekers and ban those awaiting hearings from working in the U.S. Trump also gave officials 90 days to propose new regulations so that all asylum applications can be adjudicated within 180 days. Currently, some applications take years.
“It is the policy of the executive branch to manage our humanitarian immigration programs in a safe, orderly manner that provides access to relief or protection from removal from the United States for aliens who qualify, and that promptly denies benefits to and facilitates the removal of those who do not,” Trump wrote in the memo.
Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rodolfo Karisch told a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing this month that border agents have captured people trying to enter the U.S. illegally from more than 50 different countries, including Turkey, China, Bangladesh, Egypt and Romania. Customs and Border Protection agents made more than 100,000 arrests or denials of entry in March, the highest in 12 years. What’s more, there are currently more than 800,000 asylum claims in the works, and all those seeking asylum are allowed to stay in the country.
But very few will win asylum. In 2016, of the more than 400,000 people who were apprehended entering the U.S. illegally, just 20,000 or so were granted asylum — just 5%.
In February, Trump declared a national emergency to address the security and humanitarian crisis at the border. “That emergency continues to grow increasingly severe,” he said in Monday’s memo.
“In March, more than 100,000 inadmissible aliens were encountered seeking entry into the United States. Many aliens travel in large caravans or other large organized groups, and many travel with children. The extensive resources required to process and care for these individuals pulls U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel away from securing our Nation’s borders. Additionally, illicit organizations benefit financially by smuggling illegal aliens into the United States and encouraging abuse of our asylum procedures. This strategic exploitation of our Nation’s humanitarian programs undermines our Nation’s security and sovereignty,” he wrote.
In addition to charging asylum seekers a fee, Trump also wants to make sure applicants don’t work in the U.S., proposing to “bar aliens who have entered or attempted to enter the United States unlawfully from receiving employment authorization before any applicable application for relief or protection from removal has been granted, and to ensure immediate revocation of employment authorization for aliens who are denied asylum or become subject to a final order of removal.”
Trump also wants his Secretary of Homeland Security to “reprioritize the assignment of immigration officers and any other employees of the Department as the Secretary deems necessary and appropriate to improve the integrity of adjudications of credible and reasonable fear claims, to strengthen the enforcement of the immigration laws, and to ensure compliance with the law by those aliens who have final orders of removal.”
According to the White House, the number of “aliens who do not show up to court and are ordered removed in absentia has soared, with 17,200 removal orders issued in absentia in the first quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2019. … If this pace continues, in absentia removal orders would more than triple the 2013 total.”
Read the full memo here.