Monday October 14, 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

Punjab Takes Tough Stand On Illegally Imported Cigarettes

Punjab Principal Secretary on Monday directed the concerned authorities to initiate action against vendors indulging in the sale of illegally imported cigarettes and pan masala

0
cigarettes, illegal, import, punjab, laws
The trade of illegal brands is getting acute in big cities like Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and Amritsar where the retailers prefer to sell these brands which are cheap and the profit margins are enormous. Pixabay

Taking a tough stand, Punjab Principal Secretary (health and family welfare) Anurag Aggarwal on Monday directed the concerned authorities to initiate action against vendors indulging in the sale of illegally imported cigarettes and pan masala with flavoured chewing tobacco in separate sachets.

IANS last week highlighted how the sale of illegally imported cigarettes in the state has become common, posing a serious threat to the health of the smokers, who are getting hooked to catchy packets of international brands sans proper health warnings.

Anti-tobacco activists told IANS that the sale of illegal cigarettes, which is an organised crime, not only evades the state’s high taxes but also plays with the lives of smokers, mainly the first-timers, because of inferior manufacturing processes and low quality tobacco with high levels of tar and nicotine.

Presiding over the state-level coordination committee meeting here to curb the usage of tobacco, Aggarwal said that it is a matter of grave concern that some manufacturers are selling pan masala (without tobacco) with flavoured chewing tobacco in separate sachets, which are often sold together by the same vendor.

He said the sale of such products is totally illegal in the state.

Aggarwal said the sale of cigarette packets without 85 per cent pictorial warning against tobacco usage is also a crime.

He directed the Excise Department to take strict action against the offenders.

Trade insiders told IANS that Punjab alone has an annual legal market of 120 million cigarettes and the illegal market accounts for 20 per cent of the total trade.

cigarettes, illegal, import, punjab, laws
Aggarwal said the sale of cigarette packets without 85 per cent pictorial warning against tobacco usage is also a crime. Pixabay

Chandigarh and Panchkula have a market of 30 million and six million cigarettes annually, respectively, and the illegal market also has a share of 15-20 per cent.

Most of the illegal cigarette brands originate from China and Indonesia and the retailers are getting attracted to them as they are available at a significantly lower price as compared to the legal brands. They are sold in the market at one fifth the price of the legal products.

“The trade of illegal brands is getting acute in big cities like Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and Amritsar where the retailers prefer to sell these brands which are cheap and the profit margins are enormous,” said an insider.

ALSO READ: 7 Things to Consider before Buying Hopper Bottom Trailers

Take the case of an illegally imported brand. A pack of 20 cigarettes costs Rs 20-30 to the retailer, who sells it for Rs 100. An Indian brand, on the other hand, costs between Rs 250 and Rs 300 with a profit margin of approximately Rs 5 per pack.

The insider said there is huge price difference between Indian brands and the illegal ones due to tax evasion. (IANS)