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Trump Administration To Scrap Deadline On Work Permits For Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers hoping to work in the U.S. may soon have to wait much longer to find out the fate of their applications if a government proposal is successfully implemented.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a proposal Friday to eliminate the 30-day wait limit when determining whether to grant work authorization to asylum seekers living in the country. The agency argued that extending the wait limit would allow it to more properly process applications and weed out potential fraud.

“Established before 9/11, this processing timeline does not reflect the operational realities USCIS currently faces when adjudicating employment authorization applications,” USCIS acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said in a prepared statement. “Our first priority as an agency is to safeguard the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system from those who seek to exploit or abuse it.”

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“This proposal allows us to conduct the kind of systematic vetting and identity verification procedures expected of an agency charged with protecting national security,” Cuccinelli continued.

Under the current requirements, USCIS has 30 days to decide whether to grant or deny an asylum seeker’s work permit application once that individual has filed. However, in the 20-years since the rule was put into place, additional measures have been included in the vetting and screening process. The agency says this has made it much more difficult to concisely rule out identity or other forms of fraud.

“These proposed changes will allow USCIS the time needed to receive, screen, and process applications, which in turn would strengthen national security, maintain technological advances in identity verification, and further deter those who may be attempting to defraud the legal immigration system under an improved process,” the agency’s statement on Friday read.

USCIS — which is the agency under the Department of Homeland Security tasked with managing legal immigration — is also wanting to scrap the provision that requires applicants to submit their renewal requests to the agency 90 days before their employment authorization expires, a move they say will reduce “confusion.”

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Friday’s announcement marks the latest move by Cuccinelli, who is unafraid to spar with the media over White House policies, and is quickly becoming the face of President Donald Trump’s immigration agenda.

The USCIS chief rolled out the administration’s “public charge” rule in August. Under the guidelines of the new policy, an immigrant’s use of government benefits — such as food stamps, section 8 housing, and other benefits for low-income earners — will be taken into account when determining whether to grant them permanent residence.

Cuccinelli has also publicly fought with Montgomery County, Maryland officials over its sanctuary rules. Faced with a barrage of criticism over a recent slate of rapes and sexual assaults by illegal immigrants living in the county, Montgomery County issued a letter condemning Cuccinelli and “Neo-Nazis” that have spoken out about the controversy.

In response, Cuccinelli dared Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, a Democrat, to a debate over illegal immigration.

“I’ll defend children and crime victims, Elrich can defend rapists and [murderers] who shouldn’t even be in this country,” he wrote Friday on Twitter.

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