Immigrants who hope to challenge their deportation orders could be charged nearly $1,000 to go to court under a proposed new regulation unveiled 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 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.
Another agency, 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.
The price of bonds for release from immigration detention have gone up for many, too. And Monday, a rule took effect that makes it difficult for immigrants to pursue permanent legal status if they have used public benefits, such as Medicaid and food stamps.