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We gotcher huddled masses right here, pal

In a memo posted yesterday, Donald Trump ordered his administration to start charging an application fee for people seeking asylum, because if there's one thing the man understands, it's that humanitarian assistance to people fleeing for their lives should at least raise some revenue. In addition, the memo would prevent any asylum seeker from getting a work permit if they cross the border illegally, and calls for all asylum cases to be adjudicated within 180 days. That's already the official policy, but saying it again ought to simply magic away the years-long backlog in the immigration courts. Particularly since there's nothing in the memo about actually adding any new immigration judges.


The memo doesn't actually change any immigration or asylum policies in itself, but rather directs government agencies to write new rules within 90 days. Still, Trump sure is proud of his achievement, assuming he actually had anything to do with the actual production of the memo.

The Washington Post notes that under current immigration law, the attorney general does have the authority to charge a fee for asylum applications, although until now no administration has ever done so, possibly because previous presidents had some sense that charging people seeking political asylum is insane, and no one like Stephen Miller ever had this much power before.

David A. Martin, a former Homeland Security deputy general counsel who helped make changes to the asylum system in the 1990s, said that he had never heard of charging a fee to applicants and that it would be a "bad idea."

Asylum seekers are fleeing for their lives — fearing torture or death in their home countries — and often cannot afford to survive without assistance in the United States, he said.

"Genuine asylum seekers by definition leave in the most urgent of circumstances," Martin said. "As a group, they tend to be very short on resources. If you're going to leave the possibility of refuge for people who legally qualify truly open, you wouldn't impose a barrier of a fee."

Well sure, Mr. Martin, but that assumes applicants for asylum are actually fleeing mortal danger in their homelands instead of traveling thousands of miles in constant danger so that they can come here, fake an asylum claim, and get on welfare while simultaneously taking all the jobs. And just because Central American countries have the highest murder rates in the world doesn't mean they're all that "bad," unless you're an American considering traveling there, which you shouldn't.

The Post also points out that if the US does impose an application fee for asylum, it would put us in a weird minority of nations, since a 2017 report says the "vast majority" of countries don't put a surcharge on human rights. "Some nations charged migrants fees for temporary or permanent protection visas, though migrants could apply for waivers." Pfft, talk about missing out on a chance to tell people to beat it!

Martin told the Post it's possible the administration may use Trump's fake border "emergency" declaration to sidestep the usual process for enacting new rules, because when has following normal rule-making procedure ever been a thing with this bunch? The memo already refers to that declaration.

As for the directive to adjudicate all asylum claims within 180 days, good luck with that, huh?

Federal law already requires that the government adjudicate asylum cases within 180 days, Martin noted. The requirement took effect in the 1990s and helped reduce asylum fraud and slash a large backlog of cases. Under that earlier change, the government also restricted work permits to migrants whose cases had been pending at least six months.

But almost a decade ago, Martin said, asylum cases started to pile up again and the government failed to invest enough in the immigration courts to keep up. Now the court backlog exceeds 850,000 cases, including asylum, with approximately 400 judges to handle them.

How Trump expects a new rule would just make that backlog vanish is beyond us. Perhaps this is all some sort of prelude to Trump fulfilling his dream of eliminating due process in immigration law altogether? He can just pardon anyone who breaks "the law" anyway.

Advocates for immigrants are already gearing up for lawsuits if the rules are put in place. Which, as Vox's immigration expert Dara Lind points out, could take months, even if the agencies manage to come up with proposed rules within 90 days. There's a very real chance that the 2020 elections could come and go before the inevitable lawsuits over new asylum regulations make their way to the Supreme Court.

But hey, at least this way Trump and Stephen Miller can claim they're getting tough on people in desperate circumstances, and really, isn't that what America is all about?

[WaPo / The White House / Vox]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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