Trump Administration Accused Of Trying To Leave Asylum Seekers 'Starving And Homeless' With Bid To Limit Work Permits

The Trump administration is facing condemnation over a proposed rule seeking to bar asylum seekers caught crossing into the U.S. outside designated ports of entry from being able to obtain work permits.

Announcing the proposed rule change, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency said the new rule would be aimed at deterring asylum seekers from "illegally entering the United States and from filing frivolous, fraudulent or otherwise non-meritorious asylum applications in order to obtain employment authorization."

"Our immigration system is in crisis. Illegal aliens are gaming our asylum system for economic opportunity, which undermines the integrity of our immigration system and delays relief for legitimate asylum seekers in need of humanitarian protection," USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said 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," Cuccinelli asserted.

Immigration advocates are not convinced, however, with Human Rights First condemning the proposed rule as a new way for the Trump administration to "penalize asylum seekers who have crossed the border between ports of entry."

"This is yet another Trump administration move aimed at inflicting pain on people seeking U.S. refugee protection—in this case apparently to leave them starving and homeless," said Human Rights First's Senior Director for Refugee Protection Eleanor Acer in a statement shared with Newsweek.

"If it goes into effect, this proposed rule will prevent asylum-seekers from working to feed and support their families while their cases sit in U.S. government adjudication backlogs," Acer said.

Already, she said, "many of Human Rights First's refugee clients are already suffering while they wait six months before they can apply for work authorization."

USCIS's proposed rule change is the agency's latest bid to crack down on irregular immigration, with the agency recently proposing a measure that would force asylum seekers to pay an application fee.

If the U.S. does adopt the proposed rule, it would become one of just a small handful of countries to impose such a charge.

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Immigrants listen to the U.S. National Anthem at a naturalization ceremony on November 20, 2014 at the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services office at Newark's Federal Building in Newark, New Jersey. USCIS has announced a new proposed rule seeking to limit work permits for people caught crossing into the U.S. outside designated ports of entry. John Moore/Getty