The Florence Project unequivocally condemns the Final Rule announced by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) increasing the fees charged by the agency. When this rule was proposed, the Florence Project submitted a comment urging USCIS to rescind the rule in its entirety, as it unduly burdens low income immigrants and essentially makes immigration to the United States a path only available to the affluent.

While we are pleased that USCIS did not openly increase the fee for DACA applications, the news last week, on July 28th, that DACA renewals now must be filed annually is effectively a fee increase.

Additionally, the Final Rule institutes a $50, non-waivable fee on asylum applications, which we vehemently oppose. Our asylum-seeking clients are fleeing violence, harm, or persecution in their country of origin, often after a life-threatening event that has forced them out of their home. This fee creates an additional, oftentimes insurmountable, barrier for asylum seekers. As a result, we fear that many asylum seekers with strong claims and legitimate fear of return will not apply for asylum simply because they cannot afford this fee. For some of our asylum seeking clients, deportation is a death sentence.

The creation of an asylum application fee is a direct contravention of U.S. treaty commitments and international law, which states that access to asylum cannot depend on financial means.

We are deeply concerned that by implementing fee increases on applications for immigration benefits and eliminating many fee waivers, this Final Rule denies immigrants the ability to support themselves and their families. These fees decrease access to the very tools that allow migrants to seek safety, protection, and stability in the United States.

We stand with all immigrants and will continue to fight against these unjust and punitive fees.