Political News

Trump administration finalizes rule that could lead to delays in work for asylum seekers

Posted June 19, 2020 2:47 p.m. EDT

— The Trump administration has finalized a federal rule that would remove a 30-day window to process documents authorizing work for asylum seekers, likely adding yet another hurdle for those seeking refuge in the United States.

The final rule from US Citizenship and Immigration Services on Friday comes as the Trump administration has made over a dozen changes to the immigration system as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, including largely barring asylum seekers from entering the US.

The Department of Homeland Security currently requires USCIS to grant or deny an initial employment authorization application within 30 days from when the asylum applicant filed their form.

Under the new rule, first proposed in September, USCIS removes the 30-day provision, potentially leading to a delay for asylum seekers to work.

The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on Monday and goes into effect in August.

In a press release Friday, the agency called the 30-day time frame "burdensome," claiming it had led to resources being diverted from other benefits requests.

USCIS argued that the new rule allows for the agency to better suss out fraud and protect national security.

"Removing this self-imposed internal processing time frame gives USCIS the operational flexibility to conduct the kind of systematic vetting and identity verification procedures the public expects from an agency charged with protecting national security," USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow said in a press release.

The Trump administration has frequently taken steps to overhaul the nation's immigration system.

Asylum seekers are now required to wait in Mexico for their immigration proceedings in the US, or be sent to Northern Triangle countries -- Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador -- to seek asylum there instead.

Earlier this month, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice proposed a new regulation that would make it exceedingly difficult for migrants to claim asylum. That rule will need undergo a public comment period and won't take effect immediately.

USCIS has also proposed a rule that would impose a charge on asylum applications and another that bars asylum seekers who illegally crossed the border from obtaining work authorization.

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