US Citizenship and Immigration Services on Wednesday proposed a rule that would bar asylum seekers who illegally crossed the border from obtaining work authorization and delay when permits can be granted.
The proposed rule stands to affect thousands of migrants seeking asylum in the United States who depend on work permits to sustain themselves while their cases work their way through the immigration courts – a process that can take months, if not years.
It also marks the Trump administration’s latest move to crack down on asylum. Last Friday, USCIS proposed a separate rule that proposed a charge on asylum applications, joining only three other countries that do so.
Wednesday’s rule tightens eligibility for work authorizations, with some exceptions, and extends the waiting period for when asylum seekers can apply for a work permit, from 150 days to 365 days. The regulation doesn’t change eligibility requirements for asylum.
“These proposed reforms are designed to restore integrity to the asylum system and lessen the incentive to file an asylum application for the primary purpose of obtaining work authorization,” acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement. The rule was announced while Cuccinelli sat before the Senate Homeland Security Committee for a hearing on migration to the southern border.
The motive behind the change, according to the text of the rule, is to deter migrants who have frivolous asylum claims, though it would likely impact all asylum seekers, including those with legitimate claims.
In April, President Donald Trump released a memo directing the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department to propose regulations that would prevent migrants who entered the US without authorization from receiving a work permit.
The proposed rule will publish in the Federal Register on Thursday.