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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.

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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)

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Facebook Working to Re-elect Donald Trump, Says Billionaire Philanthropist Geroge Soros

"As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear."

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The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

The billionaire philanthropist George Soros has slammed Facebook, accusing the social networking giant of helping to re-elect Donald Trump in the 2020 US election.

“Facebook will work to re-elect Trump and Trump will protect Facebook,” the 89-year-old said during a speech at a dinner hosted by his non-profit Open Society Foundation at Davos on Thursday, reports Politico.

“It makes me very concerned about the outcome of 2020,” Soros added.

Reacting to his outburst, a Facebook spokesperson said: “This is just plain wrong”.

At the dinner speech, Soros called Trump “the ultimate narcissist”, and Xi Jinping a “dictator”, while praising Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

Soros also announced he will launch “the most important project of my life” — a $1 billion investment in “critical thinking” via a new network of colleges.

Judge, Trump, Moral
FILE – President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, Nov. 4, 2019. VOA

Earlier this month, Facebook Vice President Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth claimed that it was the social networking giant that got Donald Trump elected as the US President in 2016 because “he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser”.

In a memo obtained by The New York Times, the key Facebook executive in the same vein suggested that the platform with over 2.45 billion monthly active users should not use its enormous reach to block Trump”s reelection in 2020.

“He (Trump) didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica. He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period”, said Bosworth who runs Facebook”s hardware group.

“Trump just did unbelievable work,” Bosworth wrote.

Also Read: Amazon Asks Judge to Block Microsoft from Pentagon Project

“As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear.”

Facebook also announced it will show fewer political ads to people on its platform and Instagram, starting with the US which faces Presidential elections this year, but won’t ban or limit those as Twitter has already done and Google to some extent. (IANS)