President Donald Trump announced new orders late Monday that would introduce sweeping changes and restrictions for asylum seekers at the southern border.
The memo for the attorney general and homeland security secretary details a number of measures targeting immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, such as adjudicating asylum applications within 180 days of filing and requiring that migrants pay a fee for asylum and work permit applications. It would also ban illegal migrants from obtaining work authorization before they are granted relief or protection.
Attorney General William Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan have three months to take action, the memo says.
“The purpose of this memorandum is to strengthen asylum procedures to safeguard our system against rampant abuse of our asylum process,” said Trump, who has often complained that asylum seekers abuse the U.S. immigration system through what he says are legal loopholes.
According to DHS, the number of people claiming credible fear in order to seek asylum in the past five years has gone up 2,000%.
The President also cited the emergency at the border, saying it “continues to grow increasingly severe.”
However, Trump failed to mention in his memo how the plan would be carried out in immigration courts. Currently, there are over 800,000 cases pending and the average wait time is two years, The New York Times writes.
Migrant rights groups were quick to react to the memo, saying that asylum seekers are given work permits with a reason – to be able to “support themselves and don’t have to be depending on government assistance during that time.”
Julián Castro, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate also responded to the news Monday evening, saying the President’s orders were “truly sickening.”
“Families are fleeing violence and turmoil to seek refuge at our borders and Donald Trump wants to charge them a fee to gain asylum,” he tweeted.