President Trump has proposed charging an application fee to asylum-seekers as his administration tries to stem the flow of migrants surging across the southern border with Mexico.
Trump has been vocal about the rising number of asylum cases in the US and this is the latest move by the administration to attempt to curtail the number of people who try to apply for asylum in the country.
Mr Trump said regulations should be drawn up to ensure that asylum claims are adjudicated in immigration court within 180 days, except under exceptional circumstances. Under President Donald Trump's latest immigration proposal, they could face another demand on their meager resources: a fee to process their asylum applications.
Under the current system, asylum seekers who enter the United States both legally and illegally are allowed to work while their claims are processed.
There is a backlog of more than 800,000 pending asylum cases in the immigration court system, amounting to an average wait time of almost two years.
Since September 2018, 1 out of every 6 family unit cases filed on special expedited dockets at 10 immigration courts has ended with an in absentia removal order.
Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, says the memorandum is another in a string of the Trump administration's attacks on vulnerable asylum-seekers. They believe in justice, fairness, and equal status before our courts.
Asylum seekers waiting to get into the US sleep in small tents set up by the border, depending on volunteers and churches to bring them food and clothing.
Before leaving office, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions intervened in an immigration case to overturn asylum protections for a domestic abuse survivor.
In November, Trump issued an order that would prevent migrants who cross between official US ports of entry from applying for asylum. Last week, the president issued a separate memo tasking the secretaries of state and homeland security to generate policies which would curb visa overstays. US immigration courts are notoriously backlogged, and it's not clear whether the proposed changes would also provide additional resources as they aim to speed up the courts' work.
"Seeking asylum is a right under USA and worldwide law-not a privilege to pay for", said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ). They will have to pay for the government's costs in processing their asylum claim, but they won't be allowed to earn the money to pay.
He particularly urged the administration to "rethink" the "Remain in Mexico" policy because it forces vulnerable people to wait in uncertain and unsafe conditions in Mexico and "poses grave safety, humanitarian and due process concerns", he said.
A federal judge ordered a halt to the policy but an appellate court said it could continue while the administration appeals. His 35-yer career has been recognized in more than 100 awards for meritorious and heroic service, including a presidential commendation for heroism by President Ronald Reagan, two Distinguished Service Awards from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and an appointment as Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.