Trump Will Make Asylum-Seekers Pay

[Content Note: Nativism.]

Donald Trump announced himself as a foe of immigrants, migrants, and refugees when he came down an escalator to declare his candidacy and gave a speech in which he asserted that undocumented Mexican immigrants are rapists. He has used his first term to wage a foul war on migrants and asylum-seekers, and, now that his reelection campaign is ramping up, he's doubling down on the vile nativist agenda that animates his deplorable base.

Maria Sacchetti, Felicia Sonmez, and Nick Miroff at the Washington Post: Trump Tightens Asylum Rules, Will Make Immigrants Pay Fees to Seek Humanitarian Refuge.
[Donald] Trump ordered major changes to U.S. asylum policies in a White House memo released Monday night, including measures that would charge fees to those applying for humanitarian refuge in the United States.

Trump's directive also calls for tightening asylum rules by banning anyone who crosses the border illegally from obtaining a work permit, and giving courts a 180-day limit to adjudicate asylum claims that now routinely take years to process because of a ballooning case backlog.

The order, announced in a presidential memorandum, comes as the president is seeking to mobilize his supporters with a focus on illegal immigration ahead of his 2020 reelection campaign.

"If the Democrats don't give us the votes to change our weak, ineffective and dangerous Immigration Laws, we must fight hard for these votes in the 2020 Election!" the president wrote on Twitter after the White House published his order.

...David A. Martin, a former Homeland Security deputy general counsel who helped make changes to the asylum system in the 1990s, said that he had never heard of charging a fee to applicants and that it would be a "bad idea."

Asylum seekers are fleeing for their lives — fearing torture or death in their home countries — and often cannot afford to survive without assistance in the United States, he said.

"Genuine asylum seekers by definition leave in the most urgent of circumstances," Martin said. "As a group, they tend to be very short on resources. If you're going to leave the possibility of refuge for people who legally qualify truly open, you wouldn't impose a barrier of a fee."
Correct. Which is how we know, in addition to his relentless nativist commentary, that Donald Trump doesn't want to leave open any possibility of refuge for anyone, irrespective of whether they legally qualify for asylum.

His only objective is discouraging people from trying to cross into the U.S. at the southern border, limiting their options to do so legally, and punishing them in any way possible — from indefinite detention to taking their children away to railroading them through bullshit immigration hearings — if they do find a way to enter the United States.

There is nothing but the infliction of pain intended by telling asylum-seekers that they must pay to seek refuge, while simultaneously denying them the opportunity to make money in the U.S. while they await their hearing.

And let us be clear that refusing to change asylum law the way it desperately does need to be changed — to include the devastating effects of climate change as a legitimate reason to seek refuge — allows Trump to continually call asylum-seeking people liars:
Trump in recent weeks has increasingly mocked asylum seekers as fraudsters trying to game the system by making up stories about their hardships and fears of return to their native lands. Though homicide rates in Central America are among the highest in the world, many of those now arriving acknowledge they are fleeing poverty and hopelessness, which are not grounds for asylum protections.
Poverty and hopelessness caused by climate change, about which I've written previously: "Although the violence in migrants' home countries is a significant reason they are forced to leave their homes, the failure of crops due to climate change is causing massive problems, too — because it's causing both widespread unemployment in agricultural economies and leaving lots of people without adequate food resources."

The United States does not recognize climate change as grounds for asylum protections, and therefore Trump can keep calling asylum-seekers frauds and liars.

But he is the fraud and the liar: Again, there is no urgent crisis threatening the United States because of undocumented immigration — not an employment crisis, not a crime and violence crisis, not a health crisis. The opioid crisis is not attributable to migrant workers or asylum-seeking refugees. Terrorists are not entering the country over the southern border.

The administration's rationale for their obscene immigration policy continually shifts, but every new explanation is just as dishonest as the one before it.

There was never actually an immigration crisis in the U.S. that warranted Trump's obsessive focus on the southern border. But his manufactured fear and straight-up lies have caused a humanitarian crisis — which he now uses to try to justify his sustained war on immigrants.

He is the fraud and the liar. And his agenda is malice.

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