The latest brick in the invisible wall that the Trump administration is building to keep out legal immigrants: enormous fee increases for all kinds of immigration applications, coupled with abolition of fee waivers for those who cannot afford them. The new rules will impose a $50 fee for asylum applications, the first time the United States has ever imposed a fee for desperate people fleeing violence, and that’s just the beginning.
“’This is blood money,’ said one asylum officer. ‘Only a bully says, ‘I won’t protect you unless you pay up.’”
Only three other countries in the world charge a fee to asylum applicants. By definition, someone applying for asylum has fled violence and danger. They come seeking safety, and do not have jobs or resources here. Charging a $50 fee will not generate enough income to offset the charge of collecting the fee: the purpose is only to erect one more barricade to keep people from even applying for asylum. In addition, the new fee schedule requires a $490 fee for asylum seekers to apply for permission to work while their cases are pending.
Other fee increases include a $530 increase for citizenship applications, from $725 to $1,170 per person. To put it in perspective, listen to Jorge Baron, who posted on Twitter:
“When I became a permanent resident in the late 1980s, the application fee was $60. Under the new Trump Admin proposal, it will be $1,120. When I became a citizen in 1994, the application fee was $95. The administration wants to make it $1,170. More bricks in the ‘virtual’ wall.”
Immigrants want to become citizens. The number of citizenship applications has risen every year, and the backlog of applications awaiting processing also continues to grow. Increasing the fee and denying fee waivers means blocking the path to citizenship for personal care attendants, for farm workers, for nursing assistants, for anyone with a low to middle-class income.
Consider one more example from the long list of fee increases: DACA recipients. DACA means Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That’s the program that Obama created in 2012, for young people (under the age of 31 in 2012) who had been brought to the United States as children and had lived here at least five years by 2012. Trump tried to abolish DACA, but court orders have preserved it for those who already had DACA in September 2017. Under the fee increase schedule, DACA renewal applications, an every-two-years requirement, would increase from $495 to $765.
The fee increases are scheduled to be officially published in the Federal Register on November 14, triggering a 30-day comment period, after which time they can be republished and put into effect. During that 30 days, let’s flood the Federal Register with comments opposing the fee increase, and Congress with phone calls demanding action to stop this travesty.