Photo: Brandon Mowinkel. Statue of Liberty. After its dedication, the statue became an icon of freedom and of the United States, seen as a symbol of welcome to immigrants arriving by sea.

Florida, August 1st 2020.

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

That’s what the poem says at the Statue of Liberty, but under a new “not too poor to pay” directive the US administration announced Friday that it would dramatically increase U.S. immigration fees in multiple categories, including a first-ever $50 fee for asylum applicants and an hike from $640 to $1,160 for naturalization ceremonies for green card holders who wish to become full citizens and obtain US passports.

Voice of America News reports that the new fee structure, unveiled by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is expected to take effect October 2.

The agency, which has closed offices and suspended most services during the pandemic, has said it faces a significant revenue shortfall that could trigger furloughs.

Earlier this year, USCIS requested $1.2 billion in emergency funds from Congress to meet the shortfall caused by these closures plus a shortage of applications for services related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Multiple commenters on the official Federal Register record wrote that USCIS failed to sufficiently analyze the effect of higher fees, and that as a result total agency revenue could actually decrease due to reduced naturalization applications caused by higher fees.