Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Days before they were to go into effect, a federal court in the Northern District of California issued a national injunction blocking a dramatic fee hike for appliations for naturalized citizenship, permanent residency, asylum, and access to other immigration benefits. The new fees would have made immigration benefits unattainable for many. It would have nearly doubled citizenship from $640 to $1,170; increased lawful permanent residency and related application fees from $1,125 to $2,270; and added a $50 fee for asylum applications (the first time a fee has been assessed for asylum applications). The rule would have also eliminated most fee waivers for immigrants who cannot afford to pay the fees.
Judge Jeffrey White ruled that the nonprofit organizations that had challenged the fee increases would be likely to prevail in showing that Wolf's appointment as Acting Director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, without Senate confirmation, violated the rules of succession. As a result, the fees ordered under his stewardship cannot take effect while the litigation progresses. Similar reasoning had been used in a separate lawsuit regarding Ken Cucinelli and his asylum directives.