Known for being anti-immigrants on his bid to the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump has directed officials to toughen rules for asylum seekers.
The directive includes introducing a fee for their applications and barring those who entered the country illegally from working until their claims are approved.
The stricter moves are the latest effort by the Trump administration to stem a growing number of migrants crossing the U.S. southern border, many of whom then seek asylum in the United States.
It can be remembered that many of the changes would be dramatic shifts in how asylum seekers are treated, but would also require time-intensive regulatory procedures before they go into effect, which will likely take months.
Trump officials have repeatedly blamed U.S. laws protecting asylum seekers for encouraging fraudulent or non-deserving claims.
Meanwhile, immigrant advocates say the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict asylum protections harms people legitimately seeking refuge from violence and persecution.
Trump signed a presidential memorandum that directed the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security to, within 90 days, introduce a slew of new regulations tightening asylum policy, including one setting a fee for asylum applications, which are currently free to file.
According to Victoria Neilson, a former official at US citizenship and Immigration Services, even a small fee could be insurmountable for many asylum seekers, the government agency that accepts asylum applications.