President Donald Trump has issued a memorandum
saying that asylum seekers should pay a fee to have their applications
processed in the latest move in his crackdown on migration.
The presidential memorandum, issued on April 29, called for a slew of new
The president also wants to disqualify asylum seekers who enter the US
illegally from obtaining temporary work permits.
Critics say that fees would put the process out of reach for many people.
In his memo, President Trump said the fee would not exceed the cost of
processing the applications, but estimates have not yet been provided of what
this may be.
The vast majority of countries do not charge asylum application fees.
Victoria Neilson, a former official at US Citizenship and Immigration
Services, the government agency that accepts asylum applications, told Reuters:
“The majority of people coming to
the United States seeking asylum are coming with little more than the shirts on
Under the current system, asylum seekers who enter the US both legally and
illegally are allowed to work while their claims are processed.
Sweden’s Interior Minister Anders Ygeman has said that his country may reject the asylum applications of up to 80,000 refugees and should prepare to deport them.
Anders Ygeman said charter aircraft would be used to deport the refugees but it would take several years.
Some 163,000 refugees applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015, the highest per capita number in Europe.
The numbers have fallen significantly since Sweden imposed tighter border controls in 2016.
Along with Germany, Sweden is a prime destination for refugees and other refugees entering the EU illegally.
Of the approximately 58,800 asylum cases processed in Sweden in 2015, 55% were accepted.
Of those facing expulsion, Anders Ygeman was quoted in Swedish media as saying: “We are talking about 60,000 people but the number could climb to 80,000.”
He later tweeted to say he had not taken a position on how many refugees had grounds for asylum, it being a matter for the authorities and the courts.
Sweden earlier this week became the latest of a number of European nations to see tensions over migrants heightened by violence. A 15-year-old asylum seeker was arrested in Molndal, near Gothenburg, after a 22-year-old asylum centre employee was stabbed to death.
More than one million refugees and migrants travelled to Europe in 2015, most fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The UN says another 46,000 people have arrived in Greece so far this year, with more than 170 killed making the dangerous crossing from Turkey.
In the latest such accident, at least 11 migrants drowned – mostly children – after their boat capsized off the island of Samos, the Greek coast guard says. Several are still missing.
On January 27, a draft European Commission report said Greece “seriously neglected” its obligations to control the external frontier of Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone.
Greek government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili accused the Commission of “blame games” and said it had failed to act on a program agreed in 2015 to relocate tens of thousands of migrants and refugees stranded in Greece.
Denmark has also faced criticism this week after approving legislation to seize the valuables of refugees in the hope of limiting the influx of migrants.
Ecuador officials say it could take months to rule on an asylum bid by fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said it had taken Ecuador two months to grant asylum to Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
The website has been lending legal support to Edward Snowden, who is in a transit zone at a Moscow airport.
A WikiLeaks tweet said the American was “well” and being accompanied by one of its legal advisers “at all times”.
The website has not further elaborated on Edward Snowden’s whereabouts.
Both WikiLeaks and Russia have denied reports that the Russian secret police have questioned the American.
Edward Snowden first fled to Hong Kong before flying to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday.
He was expected to board a flight to the Venezuelan capital Caracas on Monday but his seat remained vacant.
Edward Snowden, 30, has had his US passport revoked and applied for Ecuadorean asylum.
Ecuador officials say it could take months to rule on an asylum bid by fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden
On Wednesday, Ricardo Patino compared the case to that of Julian Assange, who has been living inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London for more than a year.
Julian Assange walked into the embassy when his appeal against extradition to Sweden for questioning on accusations of sex crimes was turned down last June.
“It took us more than two months to make a decision in the case of Assange, so do not expect us to make a decision sooner this time,” Ricardo Patino told reporters.
Ricardo Patino said Ecuador had not yet decided whether to offer protection to Edward Snowden in the meantime.
“If he goes to an embassy, then we will make a decision,” the foreign minister said.
Ecuador said it would consider the American’s application “responsibly” and would weigh “human rights obligations”.
It added that the US would have to submit its position in writing regarding Edward Snowden.
Venezuela has also said it will consider an asylum application from Edward Snowden.
Edward Snowden’s case has caused a diplomatic spat, with the US accusing Russia and China of assisting the fugitive. Both nations have rejected the charges.
Russia earlier confirmed that Edward Snowden was still in a transit zone at the Moscow airport.
Although the country has no extradition treaty with the US, Washington said it wanted Moscow to extradite Edward Snowden without delay.
But Russia said that the American was technically not yet under its jurisdiction because he had not passed through immigration.
Meanwhile China described accusations that it allowed Edward Snowden to leave Hong Kong despite an arrest warrant as “groundless and unacceptable”.
The Chinese government has expressed deep concern about the leaker’s allegations that the US had hacked into networks in China.
Edward Snowden is wanted by the US for leaking highly sensitive information to the media about a secret government surveillance programme, which he obtained while working as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA).
He is charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence.
Edward Snowden’s leaks have led to revelations that the US is systematically seizing vast amounts of phone and web data under an NSA programme known as Prism.
US officials have defended the practice of gathering telephone and internet data from private users around the world.
They say PRISM cannot be used to target intentionally any Americans or anyone in the US, and stress that it is supervised by judges.
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