President Donald Trump issued a memo on Monday evening officially announcing his long-held intention to charge a fee for those seeking to apply for asylum in the United States.
The memo, which doubled down on his national emergency stance, instructed Attorney General William Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to “propose regulations setting a fee for an asylum application not to exceed the costs of adjudicating the application.” In addition to the fee, Trump called for all asylum seekers who enter the country outside of the designated ports of entry to be denied any type of work permits. The president gave Barr and McAleenan 90 days to draw up the new regulations.
The administration has been weighing the addition of a fee since as early as December 2018, when BuzzFeed reported that Trump wanted to charge asylum seekers $50 for an application, with no option for a financial hardship waiver. The details regarding the exact amount of the fee or any potential waiver options were not addressed in the memo.
The move falls in line with the string of disturbing anti-migrant measures taken by the administration; just two weeks ago, Barr made the decision to decline bail to asylum seekers. That followed the administration’s proposals to send the asylum seekers to Mexico and to block them from entering the United States altogether.
Both the fee and the work prevention measure are fairly clear in their intentions. Trump and his right-hand ghoul Stephen Miller are financially attacking a group of vulnerable people, knowing full well the majority won’t be able to afford the fee or easily find work even without the ban. The goal—of the fee, of the no-bail measure, and of the work restrictions—is to scare them out of coming here, and then to prevent the remaining folks from attaining any semblance of financial stability.
The Trump administration’s latest attack on asylum seekers seems to constitute a new low. But if they keep up their current pace, they’ll surpass that sometime in the next week or so.