Jeremy Beck's picture


  by  Jeremy Beck

Lost in the surge of tweets and reports about the caravan of asylum seekers organized by a U.S.-based open-borders group are the policies that encourage economic migrants to seek asylum despite not being eligible.

In 2009, the Obama administration determined that asylum seekers who arrive at ports of entry with "credible fear" claims would be released by authorities while waiting the outcome of their cases. Prior to this decision, applicants typically remained in custody, a practice that served as a deterrent to fraud.

By 2016, asylum claims were 10 times higher than before the change. The asylum system is now notorious for fraud and frivolous asylum applications. The overloaded system now means that people with legitimate claims have to wait longer to see a judge.

Ultimately, asylum will be granted to less than ten percent of the cases, but that hasn't changed the cost-benefit analysis for economic migrants. As Nyla Rush explains:

The system is well known: Turn yourself in to U.S. officials and ask for asylum, then disappear as you await your day in court. The asylum backlog is already untenable (300,000 cases to date) ..."

A "credible fear" asylum claim can lead to a U.S. work permit, Social Security Number, benefits and - due to the backlog - years in the United States. The more frivolous cases there are, the longer the backlog and the longer all asylum seekers extend their stay. When a claim is ultimately rejected and the applicant is put into removal proceedings, it can take additional years for a final notice of removal to be issued. When a final order of removal is issued, it is often ignored. More than 900,000 unauthorized aliens in the U.S. today have ignored a final deportation order. Every week, you can read about someone who has ignored a final removal order for years. By the time they are picked up and detained for removal, many of them have been in the country for over a decade, put down roots and started families. They know that many politicians and reporters will present their argument for amnesty in the best possible light. They've seen it happen before.

All of this undermines the credibility of the immigration limits set by Congress.

The Goodlatte bill (H.R. 4760) would keep the Obama-era parole measures in place but reduce frivolous claims by requiring officers conducting the initial "credible fear" interviews to act as more than mere rubber-stamps. This would not close all of the asylum loopholes, but it would significantly reduce the most frivolous claims that currently clog the system.

As you read stories about the caravan, remember the asylum policies that are at play, and look to see if anyone in the story recognizes the problems, much less the proposals to solve them.

Statistics from the Department of Justice (2017):

  • "Credible fear" interviews increased from 5,000 in 2009 to 94,000 in 2016
  • Removal proceedings for asylum seekers increased from 4,000 in 2009 to more than 73,000 by 2016.
  • Half of the migrants who get past the "credible fear" interview never apply for asylum once they have been released into the interior.

Recommended Reading:

  • "Migrant Caravan: It's Not about Persecution, but about Destination" by Nyla Rush, Center for Immigration Studies, April 5, 2018
  • "Border Asylum Claims Up Tenfold Since 2009" by Jessica M. Vaughan, Center for Immigration Studies, October 18, 2016
  • "Asylum Fraud In Chinatown: An Industry of Lies" by Kirk Semple, Joseph Goldstein and Jeffrey E. Singer, New York Times, February 22, 2014
  • "Immigrants Use Asylum Applications to Delay Possible Deportations" by Miriam Jordan, Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2016
  • "Trump hasn't been able to end catch-and-release of illegals: Sessions" by Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, October 18, 2017
  • "ICE: 950,000 illegals with 'removal orders' free, raids get just a sliver" by Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, February 20, 2017

JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Program for NumbersUSA

Updated: Fri, Apr 20th 2018 @ 1:30pm EDT

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