More NEW Trumpian Lawlessness: “Price Gouging” Work Visa-, And Asylum Application-Fee Edition…

We regularly argue that without a steady flow of smart people seeking a better life for themselves and their families, the US is destined to lose its competitive edge in all the sciences, and in the development of all novel technology.

In a move designed solely to demonize people who don’t look like Trump, and to create yet another federal slush fund (under his nominal control), from which he may pay-off his cronies, for various unsavory “favors” (including, as my graphic suggests — to have private contractors likely build small sections of wall, at stupidly inflated price points). . . Trump had DHS impose vastly overpiced new fees on various forms of immigration paperwork. While the $1,170 for a work visa may grab the headline, the more troubling one from a human rights perspective is a $50 non-waivable fee to apply for asylum.

It is quite often true that oppressed people, ones seeking to avoid torture or execution in their home nation(s). . . arrive at our door, essentially penniless — having normally spent what life savings they might have, to travel to America. By imposing a non-waivable $50 fee (more than half of the annual income of the median human, globally-speaking!). . . Trump effectively denies all asylum seekers, as they arrive — since almost 99 per cent of them cannot pay the fee. Meanwhile the over $1,000 per for work visas will be paid by US businesses, on behalf of desired non-US citizen workers, and will very quickly create yet another billion dollar slush fund, Trump will doubtless try to use to reward political contributors, with no-bid contracts.

So, we today begin following the Oakland federal case (which we will henceforth call “ILRS & East Bay Sanctuary, IV“) seeking to enjoin the fees — arguing in part that both Chad Wolf, and his predecessor, were never confirmed by Congress, so their actions are. . . void. The motion to enjoin also correctly argues that the APA prohibits rule-making and fee increases “under cover of secrecy” — in the way the Trumpians operated. Here’s the full 24 page PDF as filed, and a bit:

. . . .This case challenges a final rule issued by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) that drastically increases fees to apply for essential immigration benefits, including naturalization and asylum. 85 Fed. Reg. 46,788 (Aug. 3, 2020) (“Final Rule”).

For the first time in U.S. history, the Final Rule imposes a non-waivable $50 fee to apply for asylum. Under the Final Rule, the fee for an asylum seeker to apply for status and initial work authorization with biometrics skyrockets from $0 to $630. Reversing past practice, the Final Rule eliminates fee waivers for nearly all applicants seeking to naturalize. For many of the lowest income applicants, the Final Rule increases the fee for naturalization from $0 to $1,170.

The Final Rule accomplishes this in a manner that is procedurally defective, contrary to law, and arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits, or at least raise “serious questions” going to the merits, and they are irreparably harmed by the Final Rule. The balance of equities tips sharply in their favor and an injunction is in the public interest. See E. Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Barr, 964 F.3d 832, 845-46 (9th Cir. 2020) (“EBSC 2020”). For these reasons, the Court should enjoin the Final Rule or stay the effective date to maintain the status quo until final resolution of the case. . . .

The tenures of both Mr. McAleenan and Mr. Wolf violated the FVRA. The DHS Secretary is a principal officer who must be appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate. 6 U.S.C. § 112(a)(1). The FVRA permits the Executive to fill the post with an Acting Official but for no “longer than 210 days beginning on the date the vacancy occurs,” absent a pending Senate nomination. 5 U.S.C. § 3346(a)(1). The last Senate-confirmed DHS Secretary resigned on April 7, 2019. Comp. ¶ 244. That means any Acting Official in the post after November 6, 2019 was serving in violation of the FVRA’s time limits. Because the Final Rule was proposed and issued by Acting Officials after that date, it “shall have no force or effect,” under the FVRA. . . .

And so. . . we must vote. In a vast turnout / show of forceful repudiation of his hate — unlike any the Democratic Party has seen — in a generation. We must leave no doubt: his incompetence, and corruption. . . must end. Onward — grinning, ever. . . grinning.


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