Immigrants Could Face Nearly $1,000 Charge to Appeal Deportation Orders

Immigrants Could Face Nearly $1,000 Charge to Appeal Deportation Orders

Immigrants who hope to challenge their deportation orders could be charged nearly $1,000 to go to court under a proposed new regulation unveiled on Thursday, a nearly tenfold increase that immigration lawyers warn could make deportation appeals much more difficult to pursue.

The new fee schedule is the latest in a series of moves by the Trump administration to speed up deportations and discourage the arrival of immigrants. Under the same proposal, the administration wants to require asylum seekers to pay a $50 fee to have their cases heard in court; historically, the asylum process has been available to people fleeing persecution regardless of their ability to pay.

In proposing the new fees, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, an arm of the Justice Department, said asking immigrants to pay a greater share of costs would help make sure that court resources were available and would also assure “that U.S. taxpayers do not bear a disproportionate burden in funding the immigration system.”

The proposed fees are now open to public comment for a 30-day period. The fees were last increased in 1986, the agency said, and applicants would continue to be able to apply for waivers if they are unable to pay.

But lawyers representing immigrants said the proposed fees, especially those for asylum applicants, could violate the United States’ legal obligation to provide immigrants fleeing dangerous conditions to a full and fair hearing.

“I think that new proposed regulation is absolutely outrageous and will have draconian consequences on the ability of noncitizens in removal proceedings to be able to navigate and access the system that Congress put in place for the proceedings,” said Trina Realmuto, directing attorney at the American Immigration Council.

The proposed fee for asylum seekers is inconsistent with the concept of welcoming individuals fleeing persecution and torture and amounts to “putting a price tag” on asylum, Ms. Realmuto said.

Another branch of the government, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, has also proposed a sharp increase in fees for immigrants and visa applicants. Fees for permanent residence permits, known as green cards, would jump to $2,750 from $990, and the cost for naturalization of new citizens would increase to $1,170 from $445.

Again and again, the Trump administration has made it more expensive to be an immigrant. The price of bonds for release from immigration detention have gone up for many. And on Monday, a rule went into effect that makes it difficult for immigrants to pursue permanent legal status if they have used public benefits, such as Medicaid and food stamps.

Lawyers who work in immigration courts said many of their clients are already deeply worried they will be unable to afford to fight deportation orders, even when they may have substantial justification for staying in the country.

“There’s just been a sense of panic,” said Matt Adams, legal director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “For many of our clients, it basically is an insurmountable obstacle.”

Immigrants who would be hit hardest by the hike are those in immigration detention, Mr. Adams said. Many were the primary breadwinners in their family before being locked up, and they may not even have the chance to file an appeal, he said.

“It’s undermining the very idea of a fair hearing,” he said. “It’s like, ‘You can get a fair hearing, if you have enough money to pay for it.’”

Latest Category Posts

You May Also Read