(3TV/CBS5) -- President Donald Trump is proposing several changes to the U.S. asylum process, drawing cheers from Arizona Republicans and condemnation from state Democratic lawmakers.
Arizona Republicans say the changes will help stem the surge of migrants at the border.
Democrats say the plans unfairly punish the most vulnerable refugees.
In a Monday memo, the president ordered his administration to draft regulations that would institute an application-processing fee for asylum seekers.
He also proposed barring provisional work permits from individuals who cross the border illegally and requiring judgments in asylum cases within 180 days.
Currently, those cases can span years because of the massive backlog.
“People have misused this asylum system in order to enter illegally and stay indefinitely. The system is full. The country is full, so these are common-sense ideas,” said Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward.
Sate Senator Martin Quezada, a Democrat, called the president’s directives a “political stunt.”
“It's really just cruel and ridiculous. These are people seeking help that are in the most desperate of situations,” he said. “These are people that are fleeing. They're fleeing violence in their country. They're fleeing persecution.”
State Representative Isela Blanc, also a Democrat, says charging fees to refugees is “outside of American norms.”
“We have to remember that asylum seekers are coming here legally," she said. "They are protected under the Geneva Convention."
Trump advised his attorney general and acting homeland security secretary to draft regulations within 90 days.
“Hopefully it will stop or slow down the massive influx of people trying to enter the country the wrong way,” said Ward.
Republican Congresswoman Debbie Lesko says the president is using executive authority to address a problem Congress won’t solve.
“His hands are pretty much tied because Congress isn’t doing its job,” she said by phone. “Mexico has offered asylum and work permits. If for some reason they don’t have the money to file for asylum in America, I’ve been told Mexico will offer them asylum.”
Last month, more than 103,000 migrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, the highest level in more than a decade. About 60% were Central American parents traveling with kids who have the legal right to request asylum upon arrival in the U.S.
Critics promise to challenge the president’s asylum changes in court.