Trump-era rules limiting work permits for asylum seekers repealed

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Information packs are distributed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services following a citizenship ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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  • Rules barred work permits for some asylum applicants, made others wait longer
  • Judge struck down rules earlier this year

Sept 21 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday said it is repealing a pair of Trump-era rules that made it more difficult for asylum seekers to work in the U.S. while their applications are pending.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the DHS office that processes asylum applications, said it was formally repealing the 2020 rules in light of a federal judge's February decision that said they were invalid.

The rules were part of the Trump administration's broader efforts to limit eligibility for asylum and deter applications. Asylum is the primary means for immigrants in the U.S. illegally to gain legal status and a path to obtaining green cards.

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The rules required that asylum seekers wait 365 days to apply for work permits, instead of the previous 150 days, and that they submit fingerprints and other biometric information as part of the application process. DHS had also barred asylum seekers who did not cross the border at an authorized port of entry or had been convicted of certain crimes from being granted work permits.

Immigrant advocates said the rules went further than federal immigration law allowed in limiting work authorization and made it difficult for asylum seekers to afford basic necessities and hire lawyers.

USCIS had stopped applying the rules in February, after a federal judge in Washington, D.C. said they were invalid because Chad Wolf, who was acting secretary of DHS when the rules were adopted, was not properly appointed. The judge had partially blocked the rules last year.

The new rule, which will be formally published on Thursday, is retroactively effective from the date of the judge's ruling.

DHS restored the regulations that existed before the Trump-era rules, rather than adopting new requirements, so it is not required to seek public comment or delay the effective date of Wednesday's rule.

Read more:

Trump finalizes sweeping asylum restrictions in last-minute immigration push

Judge blocks Trump admin's limits on work authorization for asylum seekers

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Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) reports on labor and employment and immigration law, including litigation and policy making. He can be reached at