Monday December 9, 2019
Home Lead Story Directions To...

Directions To Officials To Toughen Asylum Rules, U.S. President Donald Trump

U.S. law already directs the Justice Department to finish asylum cases within six months, but with a backlog of more than 800,000 cases, asylum claims often take years to come to a conclusion.

0
//
Texas
Families hoping to seek asylum in the United States wait on the bridge connecting Reynosa, Mexico, to Hidalgo, Texas, March 15, 2019. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump directed officials to toughen rules for asylum seekers on Monday, including by introducing a fee for their applications and barring those who entered the country illegally from working until their claims are approved.

The moves are the latest effort by the Trump administration to stem a growing number of migrants crossing the U.S. southern border, many of whom then seek asylum in the United States. Many of the changes would be dramatic shifts in how asylum seekers are treated, but would also require time-intensive regulatory procedures before they go into effect, which will likely take months.

Trump administration officials have repeatedly blamed U.S. laws protecting asylum seekers for encouraging fraudulent or non-deserving claims.

But immigrant advocates say the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict asylum protections harms people legitimately seeking refuge from violence and persecution.

On Monday, Trump signed a presidential memorandum that directed the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security to, within 90 days, introduce a slew of new regulations tightening asylum policy, including one setting a fee for asylum applications, which are currently free to file.

FILE - President Donald Trump speaks to the media outside the White House, April 27, 2019.
President Donald Trump speaks to the media outside the White House, April 27, 2019. VOA

Even a small fee could be insurmountable for many asylum seekers, said Victoria Neilson, a former official at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the government agency that accepts asylum applications.

“The majority of people coming to the United States seeking asylum are coming with little more than the shirts on their back,” she said.

Another regulation Trump ordered his officials to prepare would ensure asylum claims are adjudicated in immigration court within six months.

U.S. law already directs the Justice Department to finish asylum cases within six months, but with a backlog of more than 800,000 cases, asylum claims often take years to come to a conclusion.

“The provision to process cases in 180 days has been on the books for over two decades,” said Ashley Tabaddor, president of the immigration judges’ union. “The problem is that we have never been given adequate resources to adjudicate those claims in a timely fashion.”

Asylum cases are often complex and involve trauma, and judges should have discretion to provide more time depending on the case, Tabaddor said.

Trump also ordered officials to introduce regulations that would disqualify asylum seekers who entered the country illegally from obtaining work permits while their claims are pending. Currently, asylum seekers who enter both legally and illegally are allowed to work while their claims wind through the courts.

Migrants from Central America wait inside an enclosure, where they are being held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally and turning themselves in to request asylum, in El Paso, Texas, March 29, 2019.
Migrants from Central America wait inside an enclosure, where they are being held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally and turning themselves in to request asylum, in El Paso, Texas, March 29, 2019. VOA

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials encountered some 100,000 people at the U.S.-Mexico border in March, the highest level in more than a decade, and one which officials say is pushing resources to the breaking point.

Under U.S. law, asylum seekers that have a credible fear of return can seek review in immigration courts. The large majority of asylum seekers eventually lose their cases but can live in and work in the United States for the months or years it takes to process their claims.

Monday’s memorandum is just Trump’s latest attempt to curb asylum protections. Other policy moves have been challenged in federal court. (VOA)

Next Story

Economy to Overcome Other Issues in 2020, says Trump

President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger. 

0
President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a Keep America Great Rally at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. VOA

“It’s the economy, stupid” has been a catchphrase of U.S. presidential politics since the 1992 campaign, when Bill Clinton unseated incumbent George H.W. Bush. Nearly three decades later, U.S. President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger.

Trump — in tweets, at political rallies and in remarks to reporters — constantly emphasizes the performance of the U.S. economy, stock market surges, low unemployment rates and his tax cuts to boast he is doing a great job as president.

Economists and political analysts are divided on whether that message will enable the incumbent to stay in office beyond January 2021.

Culture war, partisan split

Ever since Clinton, “we’ve all kind of assumed that should be true. And I think for the most part, it is,” said Ryan McMaken, senior editor and economist at the Mises Institute, a politics and economics research group in Alabama. He cautioned, though, that Trump finds himself on one side of a culture war that his predecessors did not have to confront, as well as a deep partisan divide on consumer confidence.

Walmart Supercentre
Balo Balogun labels items in preparation for a holiday sale at a Walmart Supercenter, in Las Vegas. Black Friday once again kicks off the start of the holiday shopping season. But it will be the shortest season since 2013 because of Thanksgiving falling on the fourth Thursday in November, the latest possible date it can be. VOA

Policy analyst James Pethokoukis at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, a public policy research group, also is cautious about the economy prevailing over all other issues.

“Just having a strong economy is not going to guarantee you re-election,” he said. “People often point back to the 2000 election, which occurred after a decade of tremendous economic growth any way you want to measure it — gross domestic product, jobs and wage growth. And yet, [Clinton’s vice president] Al Gore still lost that election to George W. Bush.”

McMaken questioned whether voters in key swing states — such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio — who cast ballots for Trump in 2016 were experiencing enough of the touted economic performance to vote again for the president.

Overall, however, “it’s not a bad economy to run on if you’re Donald Trump,” said Pethokoukis.

Trump, said to have concerns about the direction of the economy ahead of next November’s election, will likely push for more tax cuts, passage of a renegotiated North American trade pact and continued pressure on the country’s central banking system, the Federal Reserve, to lower interest rates.

A LB Steel LLC's employee manufactures a component
A LB Steel LLC’s employee manufactures a component for new Amtrak Acela trains built in partnership with Alstom in Harvey, Illinois, U.S. VOA

Trouble ahead?

There are rumblings of economic storm clouds on the horizon. The impact can be seen in Trump’s trade war with China, which has hurt U.S. farmers and raised prices for consumer goods. It’s also reflected in the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index, an underperforming U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index and a ballooning record national debt, in addition to the worrying level of money owed to creditors by middle-class Americans.

“We’ve actually been in a sort of a manufacturing recession, seen a shrinkage of factory jobs, the exact kinds of jobs that I’m sure that people voting for the president thought would be a lot better now,” said Pethokoukis.

So far, none of this has prompted a major stock market correction.

“There seems to be a lot of adaptations in the markets to Trump’s America. That may work to his advantage,” said the Mises Institute’s McMaken.

Analysts note a lack of emphasis on economic platforms so far by the leading Democratic U.S. presidential candidates seeking to oust Trump next year.

But such a platform is likely to be touted when the opposition party holds its convention next July in Milwaukee and picks its campaign ticket. Pethokoukis suggested the Democratic Party should devise a plan with a goal to boost American worker productivity, which has flatlined for years.

The great divide

McMaken pointed out that the widening chasm between the well-off and those struggling economically in the United States makes Trump vulnerable — something emphasized by left-leaning Democratic presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Donald Trump says the economy isn't doing well
Tents and tarps erected by homeless people are shown along sidewalks and streets in the skid row area of downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S. VOA

“On the ground level, I would say just in general, the economy isn’t doing as well,” concluded McMaken.

ALSO READ: Greed For Power May Demolish The Democracy

Amid an impeachment drive by the Democrats, Trump is repeatedly hammering on a specific message to those questioning his suitability for office while being impressed with the performance of their pension accounts during his presidency.

“Love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire in August, warning that Americans’ investments portfolios would go “down the tubes” if he lost next year’s election. (VOA)