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'Relentless Cruelty': Proposed Trump Administration Rule Would Keep Asylum-Seekers From Applying for Work Permits for a Year

"Trump is willing to hurt our economy just so that he can hurt immigrants first."

As seen through fencing, migrants—including a young child—stand while being detained by Department of Homeland Security police after crossing to the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier, on June 27, 2019 in El Paso, Texas.

As seen through fencing, migrants—including a young child—stand while being detained by Department of Homeland Security police after crossing to the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier, on June 27, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A proposal being discussed Monday by Trump administration officials would bar asylum-seekers from Mexico in the U.S. from applying for work permits for a year after arriving in the country, drawing criticism for the White House's continuing attacks on immigrants.

NBC News reported on Monday that the policy is in development. The new rules are expected to be announced this week. 

A Monday meeting between outgoing secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan and the heads of Customs and Border Enforcement (CBP) and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) was expected to iron out the details of the new policy. Chad Wolf was named Friday as McAleenan's successor.

According to NBC News, the policy "is meant to target Mexican families seeking asylum, a demographic that has recently risen while the number of Central Americans has decreased since May." Current policy bars work permits for 150 days; it takes the average asylum-seeker two years to get through the U.S. court system.

The expected policy proposal comes more than two months after BuzzFeed News reported that DHS was considering banning work permits completely for asylum-seekers. The new set of proposed rules, NBC said, are more narrowly targeted:

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One of the DHS officials said proponents of the policy believe prolonging the period when Mexicans are not allowed to work while they wait for their claim will deter them from coming to the U.S. in the first place.

Critics sounded off on the proposed restrictions, the latest example of what immigration expert Marshall Fitz called the Trump administration's "relentless cruelty" toward the country's immigrant population. 

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), in a tweet, condemned the proposed policy as not only morally wrong but economically shortsighted.

"Communities that take in refugees see their economies grow," said Chu. "That's a fact. So there is no benefit to this policy."

"Prohibiting refugees from working is damning them to poverty," Chu added. "Trump is willing to hurt our economy just so that he can hurt immigrants first."

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