US Plans to Charge Political Asylum-Seekers

THE Immigration and Naturalization Service, already adding border agents to slow the tide of illegal immigrants, wants to impose a fee on those seeking political asylum in the United States. Reports have set the fee at $130.

The INS, in regulations to be published in a few days, will also propose a waiting period before applicants receive work permits.

Regulations, which could become law after a two-to-three-month public-comment period, would make the US the only nation to charge asylum-seekers a fee. The proposed rules are part of reforms aimed at tightening US borders and calming political furor over immigration.

An INS official said the application fee would help pay for additional employees and would reduce the number of people seeking political asylum. It also would allow the agency to focus on reducing a backlog of some 300,000 applications that cover more than 500,000 people.

Under the present system, nearly all of the thousands who seek a safe haven in the US get work permits when they apply. Because of the backlog, applicants who don't qualify for political asylum can work for years before their cases are considered, and they are deported.

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