The House Judiciary Committee approved yesterday the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act (H.R. 391), which would narrow the “credible fear” standards that illegal aliens must meet in order to make an asylum claim. The bill, which passed by a 19-11 vote, is sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) after being first introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
H.R. 391, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2017, represents one of the most thorough responses to the surge of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) at the Southwest border in 2015-16. The bill would:
- Repeal the requirements that resulted in UACs from contiguous countries receiving differing treatment than those from noncontiguous countries,
- Require immigration officers to order all illegal entrants removed upon screening, absent an asylum claim,
- Cut aid to foreign countries who resist repatriation of illegal aliens,
- Redefine the definition of UAC to limit it further to those who do not have a parent, legal guardian, sibling over 18, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or cousin in the U.S,
- Extend the deadline before notification and transfer of UACs to Health and Human Services (HHS),
- Require HHS to share details of the children and those with whom the children are placed with DHS,
- Add additional judges and immigration attorneys in an attempt to address future surges,
- Grant CBP unimpeded access to Federal land and include the construction of tactical infrastructure,
- Make various changes to the asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile visa, and parole systems to severely limit fraud and abuse, while protecting those with legitimate claims.
H.R. 391 is in response to the surge of unaccompanied minors who illegally crossed the southern border in 2015 and 2016 and former Pres. Obama’s catch-and-release policy. Under the Obama administration, illegal aliens caught crossing the border could claim asylum and were released into American communities with a work permit and access to welfare benefits while their asylum claim went through the immigration courts.
During FY15 and FY16 DHS approved 81% and 88% of credible fear claims, respectively – many of which were fraudulent and baseless.
“Securing our borders should always be a top priority, and reversing previous years of lax enforcement to re-establish stability in our immigration system is the only way to ensure the legal path to citizenship is followed again. Decades of an exposed and broken border have not only encouraged more immigrants to enter the United States illegally, but have also led to an increase in human and drug trafficking. Making matters worse, terrorists have been known to utilize weaknesses in immigration laws to gain entry and carry out their attacks. My legislation ensures our asylum programs are used not for the ill-intent of bad actors, but for those truly in need of refuge,” Rep. Johnson said in a press release.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) issued a statement on the bill saying, “The recent surge of Central American unaccompanied alien minors and family units seeking to enter the U.S. illegally at our southern border put a strain on manpower and resources. It also exposed loopholes in our nation’s immigration laws that are being exploited by smugglers and others seeking to game the system. The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act makes a number of changes to address these problems while also maintaining our country’s historic generosity toward those fleeing persecution in their home countries. I am pleased that the House Judiciary Committee has approved this bill and others to improve our nation’s immigration system and urge the House to take them up when Congress returns in a few weeks.”
Read more on this bill at the House Judiciary Committee.
Updated: Thu, Aug 10th 2017 @ 9:35am EDT