USCIS Proposes Rule to Deter Fraudulent Asylum Seekers
Preston Huennekens | FAIR Take | November 2019
On November 13, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a proposed rule that would bar asylum-seekers from receiving work authorization while their application is pending. If implemented, this rule would have a significant effect on asylum-seeking aliens.
In fiscal year 2019, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended 977,509 aliens at the southwest border. Most, if not all, of those aliens came to the border to apply for asylum. Because of loopholes in our asylum law, notably the low credible fear standard and Flores settlement, most aliens are processed and then immediately released into the interior of the country with a notice to appear at immigration court. The Trump administration has addressed this by instituting the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the remain-in-Mexico policy, and by entering into bilateral asylum agreements with the northern triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
The vast majority of asylum-seeking aliens are in reality economic migrants. Immigration court data shows that judges deny at least 65 percent of all asylum claims. There are, doubtless, aliens with legitimate claims. But many more simply apply for asylum because it is the path of least resistance into the United States – no longer are aliens avoiding border patrol agents, but actually seeking them out. Asylum is being abused by hundreds of thousands of economic migrants, making it much more difficult for CBP and USCIS to address those aliens who actually need and deserve humanitarian relief from the United States.
These new proposed rules do just that. Work authorization is the equivalent of a golden ticket for an illegal alien. By giving hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers - even those in removal proceedings – work authorization, we incentivize further illegal immigration. By taking away work authorization, the United States can begin to sort through baseless asylum claims and locate and emphasize those that meet the high bar of asylum relief.
In a prepared statement, acting USCIS director Ken Cuccinelli noted that “Illegal aliens are gaming our asylum system for economic opportunity, which undermines the integrity of our immigration system and delays relief for legitimate asylum seekers in need of humanitarian protection.” He continued by emphasizing that the proposed rule is “designed to restore integrity to the asylum system and lessen the incentive to file an asylum application for the primary purpose of obtaining work authorization.”
FAIR applauds this common-sense reform, and calls on the administration to quickly publish it once the comment period ends on January 13, 2020.