Continuing its assault on asylum, the Trump Administration has proposed new regulations that would further restrict an individual's eligibility to file for asylum. Under the proposed rule, the regulations would create an additional seven categories that would bar a person from filing for asylum. It is important to note that these new bars would be in addition to the current bar against applicants who have been convicted of "particularly serious crimes." The new bars would apply non-US citizens convicted of
If applicants for asylum have not suffered enough legal setbacks within the past year, we have recently heard of work permits for asylum applicants who have had brushes with the law. The instructions for the I-765 Application For Work Authorization indicate that for category (c )8-which applies to asylum applicants--USCIS "may, in its discretion, deny your application if you have been arrested and/or convicted of any crime." In one case, we recently heard of an adverse decision regarding an individual who had a DWI and very minor traffic infraction on his record. Apparently, USCIS is applying a very elastic understanding of "crime" to include not only felonies and misdemeanors but essentially any type of violation or infraction. Moreover, one does not necessarily need to be convicted or found guilty by a judge in order to trigger a denial. A mere arrest can potentially invoke denial under USCIS's boundless discretionary powers, which does not bode well for immigration applicants in general given that asylum work applications are not the only types of applications where some measure of discretion is accorded to adjudicators.
Coming on the heels of news of an expected announcement by President Obama of an immigration executive action, possibly by this Friday, November 21, the White House boldly pushed the agenda even further late last week by announcing a new program for minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Scheduled to launch in December, this in-country refugee/parole program will allow parents here in the United States to request their unmarried children under the age of 21 to be interviewed for possible refugee status. Some interesting points about this new program:
1. What is asylum?