The Trump administration may soon be increasing the cost of applying for U.S. citizenship and charging new fees for other services.
U.S. citizenship application fees would rise from the current $640, nearly doubling to $1,170, in a proposed Department of Homeland Security rule filed on Friday, according to The Wall Street Journal.
(Video: Fox Business)
Asylum seekers and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could also be seeing rising fees under the new rules, which will be published on the Federal Register on November 14 and be followed with a 30-day period of open public comment.
Current fees “do not recover the full costs of providing adjudication and naturalization services” at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a review found, according to the document. An average annual shortfall of $1.2 billion is predicted for the agency if funding — primarily from fees assessed to applicants and asylum seekers — is not increased.
Rep. Brian Babin told Fox Business that, while he hates to see an increase in the cost of applications, he understands the need for more funding.
“I don’t think raising the fee $500 is going to be a show-stopper,” the Texas Republican told “The Evening Edit.”
“I hate to see the fee increase but let me tell you something,” he continued. “We’re spending billions of dollars
A fee waiver policy was changed last month by the administration, making immigrants using Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance no longer able to receive a waiver.
The new proposal will also charge a fee of $275 to renew two-year legal permits for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients — those who were brought into the U.S. illegally when they were children.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
Some asylum seekers who apply for protection with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the DHS agency that processes citizenship and other immigration applications, would for the first time be asked to pay $50 to apply for asylum. That would make the U.S. one of the few countries in the world to attach a fee to humanitarian protections.
In addition to the new or raised fees, the government is proposing to eliminate fee waivers, meaning applicants with incomes under the federal poverty line would be required to pay the higher citizenship fee and any costs associated with renewing a green card or work permit.
“The adjudication of immigration applications and petitions requires in-depth screening, incurring costs that must be covered by the agency, and this proposal accounts for our operational needs and better aligns our fee schedule with the costs of processing each request,” acting director of USCIS Ken Cuccinelli said.
Some of the funds raised are planned to be transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to combat fraud in application processing.
Critics denounced the proposed fee increases which are seen as an effort to restrict the ability of immigrants to enter the U.S., and adding the U.S. to a list of countries such as Australia, Fiji and Iran which currently charge for asylum protection.
“This is a wealth tax on becoming a U.S. citizen,” Melissa Rodgers, director of programs for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, told WSJ. “It’s part and parcel of the assault on the naturalization process.”
The proposal follows a new annual cap on the number of refugees the Trump administration announced last weekend, sending the left into a meltdown. But, as conservative commentator and author Michelle Malkin noted in an op-ed in BPR on Wednesday, critics need to “get some perspective.”
“Past refugee admissions don’t lock America into those same levels now or in the future. America’s constitutional duty is to Americans first (‘ourselves and our posterity’),” Malkin wrote. “The truth is that we’ve been generous to a ruinous, open borders fault. Last year, the Federation for American Immigration Reform tallied refugee resettlement costs to taxpayers at nearly $9 billion over five years.”
In a chilling warning following the brutal massacre of Americans in Mexico, retired ICE Director Tom Homan reiterated the urgent need for a southern U.S. border wall. Homan warned that an increase of violence in Mexico will mean the country will not be seen as a safe place for asylum-seekers to wait for their day in U.S. immigration court on the Mexican side of the border, creating another border crisis for America.
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