The United States will become one of four countries in the world to charge those seeking asylum in the country an application fee
Since Donald Trump was elected President in 2016, his administration has made it increasingly difficult for immigrants to enter the United States. In a move to further push their anti-immigration agenda, last week the Trump administration finalized a policy that will require any immigrant who is seeking asylum in the United States to pay an application fee.
BuzzFeed News reports that the United States will be the fourth country in the world to do so, joining the ranks of Iran, Fiji, and Australia, who charges immigrants a fee for applying for protection. Starting in October, anyone who wants to claim asylum will have to pay $50 along with their application.
“A $50 fee is in line with the fees charged by these other nations,” the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) explained in the final rule posted Friday.
BuzzFeed spoke with an asylum officer who explained why the fee was discouraging. “The larger problem is that humanitarian applications by their nature should be free,” the officer said. “The idea of charging people who are fleeing — and not helping if they don’t pay up — is disgusting.”
An additional asylum officer pointed out that it will cost the agency more to collect the fee than $50, “which doesn’t come close to covering the cost of adjudicating an asylum application,” they said. “This is a penalty against asylum applicants.”
The Migration Policy Institute points out that charging any sort of fee to asylum applicants “would likely reduce the number and shift the profile of those applying for and being granted legal statuses that permit U.S. residence and citizenship.”
“These actions would be the latest in a continuum of administration policies that could significantly reshape the face of legal immigration to the United States by imposing new barriers for those of more modest means, joining earlier policies such as broadening who is considered a public charge and thus inadmissible, and requiring potential immigrants to have health insurance or financial means to cover health costs,” they explained in December.
The USCIS also made many other changes to their fee schedule, making it more expensive for immigrants to move, live in, work in, or become citizens of the United States. They claim the increase in fees is due to the fact that they need more money to function, and have been in a financial crisis over the last few months.
“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures and make adjustments based on that analysis,” USCIS deputy director for policy Joseph Edlow said in a statement. “These overdue adjustments in fees are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, secure the homeland and protect Americans.”