Residents of border states like Arizona are likely paying particular attention to the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to stem the flow of immigrants from Central America. The courts have already thwarted the White House’s efforts to limit asylum claims and deny petitions filed by individuals who crossed the border illegally. Most experts believe that a memorandum signed by the president on April 29 will lead to a new round of legal proceedings.
In the memorandum, Trump ordered the departments of Homeland Security and Justice to streamline the asylum process and require those seeking asylum in the U.S. to pay for an application fee. The president wants asylum petitions to be completed within 180 days. Furthermore, he has told the departments to deny asylum seekers work permits. The memorandum gives the DOJ and DHS just 90 days to comply with the memorandum’s requirements.
Many congressional Democrats, including members of the House Appropriations Committee, were quick to condemn the memorandum. Immigration advocacy groups were especially critical of the proposed application fee. They say that the already dangerous trip north from countries like Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua would be made even more treacherous if criminals know that immigrants will be carrying substantial amounts of cash. While the amount of the fee was not included in the memorandum, immigration fees already in place range from $495 to $1,225.
The majority of asylum claims are denied because immigrants are unable to establish a credible and genuine threat. Attorneys familiar with the process could help asylum seekers to gather the kind of evidence immigration judges tend to find persuasive and prepare them for their master calendar hearings.