Trump's Proposed Fee on Asylum Seekers Would Burden the Poor - NBC Chicago
Immigration in America

Immigration in America

Full coverage of immigration issues in the U.S.

Trump's Proposed Fee on Asylum Seekers Would Burden the Poor

The proposed application fee and other changes are the latest in a series of proposals from an administration struggling to cope with a surge of migrant families arriving at the southern border



    Spend Memorial Day Weekend at The St. Charles Fine Art Show
    Eric Gay/AP
    William Linares, 5, who is traveling with his mother Suanny Gomez from Honduras and seeking asylum in the United States, eats breakfast provided by volunteers, Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in Matamoros, Mexico. Gomez said she does not have money to pay a proposed fee for seeking asylum.

    Asylum seekers waiting to get into the U.S. sleep in small tents set up by the border, depending on volunteers and churches to bring them food and clothing. Some scrape together 25 cents to pay a toll to get on an international bridge where they can use a bathroom.

    They've fled violence-ridden homelands, often arriving at the U.S. border deep in debt, paying $7,000 or more to smugglers. Under President Donald Trump's latest immigration proposal, they could face another demand on their meager resources: a fee to process their asylum applications. It's not known how much the fee might be, but any amount would likely be a burden.

    "If we came from our country, it's because we didn't have the opportunity to work. We don't have money," said Suanny Gomez, a 24-year-old woman from Honduras who waited in a tent with her 5-year-old son, William.

    The proposed application fee and other changes are the latest in a series of proposals from an administration struggling to cope with a surge of migrant families arriving at the southern border. The migrants have overwhelmed federal resources and complicated Trump's efforts to claim victory at the border as he runs for re-election next year.

    Carson Won't Say If He'd Let Grandmother Live in Public Housing

    [NATL] Carson Won't Say If He'd Let Grandmother Live in Public Housing

    Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was asked Tuesday by Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., if he would let his grandmother live in public housing. Their heated exchange came during a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.

    (Published Wednesday, May 22, 2019)

    The fee proposal was part of a memo Trump signed Monday directing his attorney general and acting homeland security secretary to take additional measures to overhaul the asylum system, which he insists is plagued by "rampant abuse." It said the application fee would not exceed the cost of processing applications, but officials did not immediately provide an estimate for what that might be.

    Trump is giving Homeland Security Department officials 90 days to come up with new regulations to ensure that applications are adjudicated within 180 days of filing, except under exceptional circumstances. He called on officials to immediately revoke work authorizations when people are denied asylum and ordered removed from the country. He also wants to bar anyone who has entered or tried to enter the country illegally from receiving a provisional work permit.

    Immigration advocates said the fees could push applicants further into poverty.

    "Asylum seekers are fleeing persecution, and have left their families, communities, homes, jobs and possessions behind in order to save their lives," said Archi Pyati, policy chief at Tahirih Justice Center.

    Democratic House Majority leader Steny Hoyer said Trump was undermining American ideals.

    "This latest move will do nothing to address the humanitarian crisis on our border of the Trump Administration's own making," he said in a statement.

    GOP Congressman Calls Trump Conduct 'Impeachable'

    [NATL] GOP Congressman Calls Trump Conduct 'Impeachable'

     President Donald Trump branded Michigan Congressman Justin Amash a "loser" after Amash became the first GOP member of Congress to say, publicly, that the president engaged in "impeachable conduct."

    (Published Monday, May 20, 2019)

    On Tuesday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan described that crisis, telling a House subcommittee the department was running out of money and out of resources for dealing with the mass of people coming to the border. He said the White House would send a supplemental request for funding, along with some legislative suggestions.

    McAleenan, formerly the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, said the system had cracked under the sheer volume of people coming to the U.S. In a single day, April 16, nearly 5,000 people crossed the border. Agents and officers don't have the resources to hold, process or properly care for them.

    "Simply put, the system is full and we are well beyond our capacity," he said. "The status quo is not acceptable."

    McAleenan has been in charge for about two weeks, following the resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen, who left amid a staff shake-up orchestrated by the White House.

    Most Central Americans seeking asylum say they are fleeing violence and poverty, and many request admission to the U.S. under federal and international law. About 20 percent of those who claim asylum in the U.S. are granted it, but the rates vary by country of origin.

    Also, not everyone who crossed the border claims asylum; during the 2018 fiscal year, 161,005 people claimed asylum, though migrants have a year to make a claim. There were more than 521,090 border apprehensions during fiscal year 2018.

    Ala. Lawmakers Pass Bill Banning Virtually All Abortions

    [NATL] Ala. Lawmakers Pass Bill Banning Virtually All Abortions

    Alabama lawmakers have approved a bill banning virtually all abortions, including for women impregnated via rape or incest, making the act a felony at any stage of pregnancy with no exceptions. The bill now heads to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to sign.

    (Published Wednesday, May 15, 2019)

    The administration has tried to crack down on asylum seekers. Attorney General William Barr said this year that asylum seekers who have passed their initial screenings are no longer entitled to be released while their cases play out.

    In Matamoros, Mexico, about a thousand people were waiting to cross the border to seek asylum. A man washed himself in the Rio Grande, the river that forms the international boundary, because there are no bathing facilities nearby.

    Leonardo Arzuaga, 28, of Cuba, arrived in Mexico on April 1 and, with support from American friends, is staying at a low-priced hotel. He waits until he can cross the border and claim asylum. Thousands of Cubans seek to enter the United States, saying they are fleeing political persecution.

    "I think it's a bit unjust," Arzuaga said of the recent proposals. "Because many people do not have the means to arrive, work, produce. For me it's something that isn't logical."

    "Because one practically gets here with nothing."

    Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Amy Taxin contributed to this story.

    'Tonight': Buttigieg on His 2020 Campaign, 'GoT' Predictions

    [NATL] 'Tonight': Mayor Pete Buttigieg Discusses His 2020 Campaign and 'Game of Thrones' Predictions

    South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg explains how he tracked down Jerry Seinfeld to make him accept a key to the city, reacts to Trump's nickname for him, breaks down his 2020 campaign platform and shares his analysis about who will claim the Iron Throne in "Game of Thrones."

    (Published Tuesday, May 14, 2019)