By Ted Hesson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration proposed a regulation on Wednesday that would bar most asylum seekers from applying for a work permit if they entered the United States illegally.
Immigration officers could grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis if migrants were found to have "good cause" to enter illegally.
In addition, the proposal would allow immigration authorities to reject an asylum application or work permit request made by migrants who miss related immigration appointments.
Opposition to the plan is expected from immigration lawyers and former immigration judges who have argued that clerical errors and lack of notice are common concerns in the U.S. immigration system.
The proposed rule also would block asylum seekers from obtaining work authorization if they have been convicted of any federal or state felony and certain other crimes.
The Trump administration has advanced several regulatory proposals in recent weeks that would toughen the process to obtain asylum. The latest plan aims to discourage migrants who might claim asylum to work legally in the United States, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that oversees asylum applications.
"Illegal aliens are gaming our asylum system for economic opportunity, which undermines the integrity of our immigration system and delays relief for legitimate asylum seekers in need of humanitarian protection," acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement. "These proposed reforms are designed to restore integrity to the asylum system and lessen the incentive to file an asylum application for the primary purpose of obtaining work authorization."
The administration last week issued a proposed rule that would add a $50 fee to certain asylum applications, the first time the United States has charged for such requests.
In September, the administration rolled out a proposal to eliminate a 30-day deadline for processing work permit requests by asylum seekers. That plan could slow down the timeline to approve or deny an asylum application.
Along those lines, the latest proposed rule also would increase a standard waiting period for asylum seekers to receive a work permit.
Under existing regulations, asylum seekers must wait 180 days from the date of submitting an application for protection before they can receive a work permit. The rule proposed Wednesday calls for a 365-day waiting period from the date an asylum application is received.
The proposed rule, which will publish in the Federal Register on Thursday, will be subject to a 60-day public comment period.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson; Editing by David Gregorio)