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Immigration

Trump Administration Proposes Employment Restrictions for Asylum Seekers who Enter U.S. Illegally

A citizenship candidate holds a flag during the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization ceremony, U.S., September 17, 2019. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on Wednesday a proposal to limit the employment eligibility of asylum seekers who have attempted to enter the U.S. illegally.

Specifically, the proposal would prevent asylum seekers from obtaining a work permit based on their pending asylum application, if they entered the U.S. illegally. Work permits would only be given to asylum seekers who are granted asylum in the U.S.

The proposal would also bar asylum seekers from receiving work permits if the applicant has been convicted of certain crimes in the U.S., such as drunk driving or child abuse.

“USCIS must take steps to address pull factors encouraging aliens to illegally enter the United States and exploit our asylum framework,” said USCIS acting director Ken Cuccinelli in a statement. “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.”

Asylum seekers who enter the U.S. at a legal point of entry would not be affected by the proposed change.

The Trump administration has already implemented a number of policies meant to deter illegal immigration, including the Migrant Protection Protocols enacted in January. The protocols, also called the “remain in Mexico” policy, requires asylum seekers who entered the U.S. illegally to return to Mexico while federal agencies process their applications.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in favor and against the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to apply for a two-year deportation deferral. The court’s conservative majority appeared willing to uphold the administration’s decision.

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