A memorandum submitted to Director Emilio Gonzalez on March 20, 2006 by Ombudsman Prakash I. Khatri recommends severe changes to current asylum procedures. The Ombudsman's proposal would impose onerous requirements on asylum-seekers and drastically curtail access to asylum.
The recommendation proposes several major changes to the asylum process. It would limit the adjudication of I-589 asylum applications by USCIS to persons in valid nonimmigrant status. Asylum-seekers who are out of status or without status would have their files referred to Immigration Court. The proposal would also mandate that parolees be referred to this office and placed in removal proceedings, regardless of whether parole is valid or expired. In addition, it would require all asylum applicants to pay a filing fee (or submit a fee waiver). The amount of the fee would be determined by OMB. Another major change would shift authority for credible fear assessments to ICE.
There are several other recommended changes likely to harm asylum-seekers. For example, the memorandum seeks to impose an arbitrary time limit of one-year on the "reasonable period" within which an asylum-seeker can file an application under the changed or extraordinary circumstance exception to the one-year filing deadline.