Articles Posted in Asylum

statue-of-liberty-1219633-201x300On April 30, 2019, President Trump issued a memo outlining several significant new restrictions on individuals seeking asylum in the United States. The memo orders the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to come up with regulatory rules implementing the policies laid out in the memo by July 29, 2019. If these rules are enacted, it would make it much harder for asylum seekers to to be granted asylum in the United States.

Asylum is a form of legal protection, that allows individuals to remain in the United States indefinitely, who have faced past persecution, or will face persecution in the future, because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Generally, an asylum seeker must formally apply for asylum within one year of entering the United States. There are two ways that individuals may apply for asylum. First, if the individual has not yet been put into immigration court, they may file their asylum case with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If the individual is in immigration court, they must file their application with the immigration court. Under current law, all asylum seekers are eligible for work authorization after their case has been pending for 180 days. For more information on the asylum process, please visit our website.

In his April 30 memo, President Trump outlines four changes to the asylum process. First, asylum seekers would be charged a fee to apply for asylum. Currently, it is free for individuals to apply for asylum. Second, the United States would charge asylum seekers a fee if they wished to apply for work authorization. Under current policy, it is free for asylum seekers to initially apply for work authorization. However, asylum seekers are charged a fee if they wish to renew their work authorization. Third, asylum seekers who illegally entered the United States would no longer be eligible for work authorization until their asylum cases are approved by either USCIS or an immigration court. Fourth, USCIS and immigration courts would be required to adjudicate all asylum claims within 180 days of being filed.

ysidro3_t800-300x150On November 9, 2018, President Trump issued a broad Presidential Proclamation drastically changing when individuals who enter the United States through Mexico may apply for asylum. The new restrictions are scheduled to last 90 days, at which point the President has the authority to renew the restriction

Under current U.S. law (and in compliance with numerous international treaties that the U.S. is a party of), all individuals who enter the United States (either legally through an official port of entry, or illegally), are entitled to apply for asylum within a year of entering the United States. Under President Trump’s proclamation, all asylum seekers who cross into the United States across the U.S./Mexico border must apply for asylum at an official point of entry. Individuals who cross the U.S./Mexico border illegally (without going through an official point of entry), will be barred from applying for asylum.

The new policy has some important limitations. First, it only applies to individuals who cross into the United States along the U.S./Mexico border. Individuals who legally enter the United States through another avenue (such as an airport), still have the right to apply for asylum within a year of entering the United States. These individuals can continue to file for asylum by filing an asylum application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or in immigration court (if they are served a Notice to Appear in immigration court.