New York Times Article Covers Fee Increase

Excepts from New York Times article, Nov. 8, 2019:

The Trump administration on Friday proposed hiking a range of fees assessed on those pursuing legal immigration and citizenship, as well as for the first time charging those fleeing persecution for seeking protection in the United States.

The rule, which will be published on Thursday and will have a monthlong comment period, would increase citizenship fees more than 60 percent, to $1,170 from $725, for most applicants. For some, the increase would reach 83 percent.

“Once again, this administration is attempting to use every tool at its disposal to restrict legal immigration and even U.S. citizenship,” said Doug Rand, a founder of Boundless Immigration, a technology company in Seattle that helps immigrants obtain green cards and citizenship. “It’s an unprecedented weaponization of government fees.”

According to the proposal, the additional revenue would help replenish the agency’s budget after Mr. Trump transferred more than $207 million of its funding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency responsible for deportations and the long-term detention of migrants.

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security said in the proposal that the transfer would support investigating “immigration fraud.” ICE agents were deployed to the southwestern border this year to conduct DNA tests on migrants to weed out what administration officials described as “fraudulent families” — children traveling with adults who are not their parents.

Along with the various fee increases, the proposal would also eliminate fee waivers that Citizenship and Immigration Services currently grants to those experiencing certain financial hardships.

If any of the new fees or fee increases go into effect, they will almost certainly prompt legal challenges.

Immigration advocates balked at the notion that the proposal was meant to cover the agency’s deficit, with some speculating that the changes were politically motivated to reduce the number of immigrants who are able to become naturalized citizens before the 2020 presidential election.

“This administration is working assiduously to put up more barriers to immigrants,” said Melissa Rodgers, the director of programs at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco.