The Trump administration announced on Wednesday a new rule that further restricts employment authorizations (EAD) to people who come to the United States seeking asylum. The Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said that the measure seeks to "deter frivolous or fraudulent asylum seekers from obtaining work authorizations" while their cases are resolved in immigration courts.
Immigration courts have accumulated more than 1 million cases that are handled by about 440 judges. On average, each file takes 3.2 years to be resolved. While the immigrant awaits the resolution of his files, the government for humanitarian reasons grants a work permit from 180 days after the request for asylum was filed.
Who does not affectRELATED
According to the USCIS, the new rule "will allow extending protections to those with asylum applications in good faith." But the agency does not detail what parameters its agents will use to determine when a petition is reliable and what crimes will prevent an asylum seeker from receiving an employment authorization while waiting for a judge to resolve his case.
Lawyers consulted by Univision News criticized the measure. “They (the agents of the USCIS) have no way of knowing if an application is in bad faith,” says Barbara Hines, an immigration lawyer and former professor at the Legal Clinic of the University of Texas Law School in Austin . "The certainty of a request for asylum depends entirely on the testimony and the facts on the trial," he adds.
"It's another way to try to destroy the United States asylum system," he said. "This new rule is a continuation of Trump's narrative that all cases of asylum are fraudulent and that is not true," he said.
Hines also recalled that "the delivery of work permits to asylum seekers is a discretionary measure, and that to find out if a person has a criminal record or not, we must wait for the verification of a person's fingerprints."
"This measure shows once again that the government is turning federal immigration agents into prosecutors and judges, and they are not letting immigration courts do their job."
The USCIS said the proposed rule is derived from the Presidential Memorandum of April 29, 2019, on additional measures to improve border security and restore the integrity of our immigration system.
He said that it is the policy of the United States to "administer humanitarian immigration programs in a safe and orderly manner, and immediately deny benefits to those who do not qualify."
He also said that "nothing in this rule changes the eligibility requirements for asylum," but instead, "this rule strengthens the standards that allow a foreigner to work on the basis of a pending asylum application."
“Our immigration system is in crisis. Illegal foreigners are playing with our asylum system in search of economic opportunities, which undermines the integrity of our immigration system and delays help for legitimate asylum seekers who need humanitarian protection, "said Ken Cuccinelli, interim director of the USCIS
The change to asylum policy had been warned in August. On that date Univision News reported that the government planned to deny work permits to immigrants seeking asylum and entering through unauthorized places along the Mexican border.
Earlier this month it was reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was considering further restricting the delivery of work permits to asylees. Measures included denying authorization to those who have been in the country for less than a year.
"The USCIS must take steps to address the attraction factors that encourage foreigners to enter the United States illegally and exploit our asylum framework," said Cuccinelli. "These proposed reforms are designed to restore the integrity of the asylum system and reduce the incentive to submit an asylum application with the main objective of obtaining work authorization," he said.
The USCIS director also cited a clause contained in the April memorandum that proposes: “Preventing foreigners who entered the US illegally from obtaining a work authorization based on a pending asylum application, with limited exceptions; and automatically terminate the employment authorization when an asylum petition is denied. ”
Other grounds for rejection
The USCIS cited as causes of denial of work permit to an asylee when:
An asylum seeker does not show up for a required appointment;
The immigrant does not submit his asylum application within one year of his last entry into the country, as required by law;
If the immigrant was convicted in the United States for any federal or state crime, or convicted of certain public safety crimes involving child abuse, domestic violence or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she is not eligible for employment authorization.
If the immigrant was arrested and the case has not been resolved or pending charges may result in the denial of the application for employment authorization as a matter of discretion.
Once the publication is made official in the Federal Register, the new rule will have a public comment period of 60 days before entering into force.
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