Trump to Close Asylum Work Loopholes

Press Releases

January 14, 2020

IRLI supports move to stem flow of illegal aliens and protect American workers

WASHINGTON—The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has filed an extensive public comment supporting the Trump administration’s initiative to re-align federal work authorization programs for asylum seekers. The new regulations are part of the administration’s continuing efforts to manage the recent flood of asylum claims by aliens arriving at the southern border.

IRLI’s analysis, filed on Monday with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) division of the Department of Homeland Security, strongly supports the proposed reforms.

IRLI explains that the new regulations continue policies developed since the 1980s in response to mass influxes of asylum seekers. For example, in 1980, the influx of Mariel Cubans completely overwhelmed unprepared U.S authorities. IRLI’s analysis shows that, since then, increased resources alone have failed to show results. They must be coupled with restrictions on application procedures, in particular restrictions on work authorization for asylum seekers, before the government can regain control.

The new regulation is complex but cohesive in its three-part strategy to deter aliens from filing fraudulent or otherwise defective asylum claims. First, all pending applicants must now wait 365 days to apply for work authorization. Various widely exploited loopholes, including the current rule that requires automatic “interim” work authorization if an asylum application remains pending for just a month after the current 150 day waiting period, and also the practice of work authorization for “recommended” but not yet granted asylum claims, will be closed.

Second, aliens who illegally cross the border instead of applying for asylum at a port of entry will be ineligible to work until they are actually granted asylum. All applicants must appear at USCIS offices to provide fingerprints, photos, and other biodata before becoming eligible to apply for work permission. IRLI agrees with the government that this will greatly improve screening for ineligible criminal aliens, a major problem in this area.

Third, longstanding federal statutes bar asylum applications filed more than a year after arrival, and sanction applications that are “frivolous.” The new reforms restrict or eliminate more than a dozen loopholes in the regulations implementing these statutes. These loopholes have been used by immigration lawyers and anti-borders activists to make incomplete and often dishonest applications, many thousands of which are received eight or even ten years after the aliens first illegally crossed our borders.

“This important new regulatory initiative has had far less media coverage than it merits,” commented Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “There is a consensus among enforcement professionals and analysts that most asylum seekers arriving at the border are really economic migrants with asylum claims that are flimsy at best. At present, the backlogs in adjudicating all these claims result in almost automatic employment authorization, which depresses the wages of American workers and is a magnet for further illegal entry. We applaud the administration for taking this important step to protect American workers and gain control of the border.”

The new regulations and request for comments were published at 84 Fed. Reg. 62374, Asylum Application, Interview, and Employment Authorization for Applicants (Nov. 14, 2019).

For additional information, contact:

Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org

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