Trump Proposes Asylum Application Fee, Other Changes to Alleviate 'Crisis' At U.S. Border

President Donald Trump continued to harden his stance against immigrants crossing into the U.S. by now recommending a fee for those seeking asylum, and for those seeking work permits.

In a memo directed to Attorney General William Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan Monday night, the president announced additional measures to enhance border security and strengthen current immigration laws.

"Our immigration and asylum system is in crisis as a consequence of the mass migration of aliens across our southern border," the memo declared. "In Proclamation 9844 of February 15, 2019, I declared a national emergency to address the security and humanitarian crisis at that border. That emergency continues to grow increasingly severe."

In the memo, the president said there were more than 100,000 illegal immigrants who sought entry into the U.S. through the southern border in March, and that many of them traveled in large caravans that pulled U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents away from normal duties.

"This strategic exploitation of our Nation's humanitarian programs undermines our Nation's security and sovereignty," the letter stated. "The purpose of this memorandum is to strengthen asylum procedures to safeguard our system against rampant abuse of our asylum process."

The memo from the White House press secretary's office stated it was the White House's duty to oversee the immigration process "in a safe, orderly manner that provides access to relief or protection from removal from the United States for aliens who qualify, and that promptly denies benefits to and facilitates the removal of those who do not."

The letter included a directive that would require asylum seekers to pay an application fee, as well as a fee for anyone seeking a work permit.

"Propose regulations setting a fee for an asylum application not to exceed the costs of adjudicating the application…and other applicable statutes, and setting a fee for an initial application for employment authorization for the period an asylum claim is pending."

The memo also noted that immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally would be barred from employment status or protection of removal from the country. This coincided with Trump's previous statement in which he proposed sending illegal immigrants by buses to designated sanctuary cities and counties throughout the country.

Other proposals in the letter includes that all immigration cases being carried out in court be completed within 180 days. Currently, there are 800,000 immigration cases pending, with an average wait time of two years, The New York Times reported.

Some immigration activists have condemned the latest move by the Trump administration, including Michelle Brané, the director of migrant rights and justice at the Women's Refugee Commission.

Speaking to The Times, Brané said work permits served a purpose for those waiting for asylum claims to be processed, and that the new policies would turn "asylum on its head."

"There's a reason that we give people work permits while they are waiting for asylum, so that they can support themselves and don't have to be depending on government assistance during that time,"Brané said.

In the letter, Trump said Barr and McAleenan should act on the new policies within 90 days.

Asylum Seekrs to US
African migrants walk at the Feria Mesoamericana park used as shelter by migrants from Africa, India and Haiti in Tapachula, Chiapas, southern Mexico, on April 28. Traveling through Mexico has become even more difficult for migrants because of tighter immigration policies and a local population reluctant to give them shelter or support as they move toward the United States. Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images