Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would deputize some of its senior Border Patrol officers as asylum adjudicators. This is a welcome development and one that could go a long way in ending the ongoing border surge.
Border Patrol officers apprehended more than 76,000 illegal border crossers in February. That number is expected to exceed 100,000 once the March numbers are released.
Of the 76,000 total apprehensions, 16,658 were "family units". That's the largest number of family units ever apprehended in a single month since DHS began tracking the statistic.
As CNN's Chris Cuomo learned during a recent trip to the border near El Paso, Texas, human smugglers are telling Central Americans that if they cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally with a minor, they'll be allowed to stay in the U.S.
Fox News' Tucker Carlson highlighted the exchange here:
Border Patrol officers have said that many illegal border crossers are claiming asylum once apprehended. Of the 521,000 who were either apprehended after crossing the border illegally or deemed inadmissible at a port of entry in FY2018, nearly 93,000 entered a credible fear claim.
John Daniel Davidson, a fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, backed up those claims before Congress earlier today. Davidson said:
- A majority of the “family units” are men traveling with one or more children;
- Many of these men say they have a wife and other children back in their home country and that they intend to secure work in the U.S. and send money back to support them;
- They are headed for all points across the U.S. and have family members or friends in those places. Many of them also have jobs already lined up;
- Nearly all of them say they left their homes because it is dangerous, citing gang violence, threats, extortion, etc. They are all claiming asylum;
- At the same time, many of them will admit that they don’t plan to remain in the U.S. permanently and in fact have a set amount of time they plan to live and work here before returning home;
- All of them say they paid a smuggler to secure safe passage to the border (the amount varies from $2,000 to $6,000 per person, sometimes more).
Ever since the Obama administration lowered the credible fear standard, allowing aliens (both legal and illegal) to apply for asylum by claiming a fear of criminal violence in their home countries, asylum claims have skyrocketed. Claims are up 1,700% over the last decade, despite the fact that most claims are denied by an immigration judge. In FY2018, 65% of all asylum claims were denied, and close to 80% of claims entered by Central Americans were denied.
As noted in Davidson's testimony, and by the Cuomo interview, human smugglers are helping illegal aliens cross the border illegally with instructions to turn themselves into Border Patrol officers and to claim asylum. Border Patrol officers are witnessing this firsthand, while bureaucratic asylum officers in Washington are not.
Brandon Judd, president of the Border Patrol Union, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Times explaining the upside to deputizing senior Border Patrol officers as asylum officers.
If the “credible fear” process begins upon arrest by Border Patrol agents, instead of at a later interview before an asylum officer, the process will be much more efficient. If an asylum-trained senior patrol agent determines that the alien has not established a credible fear, an order of expedited removal can be issued, and the illegal border-crosser can be removed immediately. The illegal border-crosser does have appeal rights, but by regulation an immigration judge must hear the case within 10 days of the person asking for reconsideration. Again, because this is not a criminal proceeding, the burden of proof remains on the illegal border-crosser, not the U.S. government.
-- Brandon Judd, Washington Times
Federal law simply states that credible fear interviews need to be conducted by an "immigration officer". Since Border Patrol officers are "immigration officers", they can conduct the interviews after going through the required training. DHS says it will begin a pilot program in about two weeks.
If the program is effective, as Judd seems to indicate, it may be the best action the administration has taken yet to address the ongoing border crisis.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Deputy Director for NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Apr 19th 2019 @ 8:25am EDT