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The Tahirih Justice Center is deeply concerned about the likelihood of new regulations following yesterday’s presidential proclamation, which includes introducing a fee for asylum applications and effectively barring asylum seekers from receiving work authorization before their asylum cases are approved. Another proposed regulation would direct judges to make decisions about asylum cases within six months. These measures will make it nearly impossible for asylum seekers to access the rights to which they are entitled under international and domestic law.

“The current proposal is another example of downright poor policy, and is also heartless,” said Archi Pyati, Chief of Policy at Tahirih. “This scheme will fail to bring protection to those who need help, and will cripple the already broken system even further.”

Asylum seekers are fleeing persecution, and have left their families, communities, homes, jobs, and possessions behind in order to save their lives. Instituting a new fee for asylum applications and work permits and barring them from work will simply drive asylum seekers deeper into poverty and leave them more vulnerable to victimization and predation by unscrupulous representatives, traffickers, and abusers. Particularly vulnerable to trafficking and abuse will be women, children, and those who have already experienced domestic and sexual violence.

Earlier this year the White House made budget proposals to siphon off money from much-needed adjudications teams in United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to fund extreme border measures and extraordinary efforts to arrest, detain, and deport immigrants in America – including while they are waiting for their court hearings or serving as witnesses in criminal actions. After seeking to divert money away from USCIS, the administration now wants to make applicants pay for humanitarian protection.

Pressuring judges to make a decision about an asylum claim within six months of receiving it will severely restrict access to counsel, as asylum seekers will not have appropriate time to find attorneys and other resources. Without representation, the chances of winning a case and getting a chance to rebuild a life in safety are slim.

Tahirih will file comments opposing proposed regulations and will continue to expose policies that harm those who need protection and harm our system, while doing nothing to protect Americans.