Presidential Proclamation “A Necessary First Step” in Protecting Integrity of Asylum Laws, Says FAIR
(November 9, 2018, Washington, D.C.) — The following statement was issued by Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), in response to President Trump’s proclamation to address deficiencies in the asylum process:
“President Trump’s proclamation setting guidelines for the asylum process is a necessary step to ensure that people fleeing political persecution at the hands of their governments are protected, while imposing checks on the rampant abuse of our nation’s humanitarian policies.
“The proclamation and subsequent rule changes will make important alterations to the asylum process by attempting to reduce the flood of migrants who enter the United States illegally before asking for asylum. People wishing to file a claim will be required to present themselves at legal ports of entry, where a determination can be made about whether they have a ‘credible fear’ of persecution in their homelands. Those with valid credible fear claims will be admitted to the United States.
“The proclamation also acknowledges the widespread exploitation of our asylum policies, as people cross our borders and present claims that are clearly coached, knowing that in most cases they will be released pending a hearing that could be years in the future. Because of this, there are now nearly one million cases backlogged in the immigration court and massive backlogs at USCIS asylum offices.
“Congress desperately needs to take action in this area, and there is no better time to do so than in the upcoming ‘lame duck’ session. Until loopholes that have been exploited for years are closed and asylum laws are changed to protect the credibility of the process, we’ll continue to see increased pressure on our southern border. The required changes include:
- Improve the Credible Fear Standard to Protect Legitimate Claims and Prevent Fraud: Congress must fix the minimal standard under current law that allows aliens – often economic migrants – to show a ‘credible fear of persecution’ and then obtain release into the interior of the country while their claim goes through backlogged immigration courts. Aliens should be required to clearly demonstrate a credible fear of persecution to stop fraud and help ensure that only legitimate claims are approved. To punish those who knowingly abuse our generosity, Congress should impose and enforce penalties for the filing of frivolous, baseless, or fraudulent asylum claims, and expand the use of expedited removal as appropriate.
- Allow for extended family detention and increase detention space: Congress can legislatively overrule the “Flores Settlement Agreement,” a court settlement and subsequent judicial rulings that limit the detention of families with children to just 20 days – a time period entirely too brief to complete a full and fair asylum adjudication. This loophole is the ‘jet engine’ driving the catch and release program. Further, Congress must fund enough detention space – including family detention centers – so no one is released while they await a court date.
- Amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA): This well-intended humanitarian law, which was designed to protect minors from sex traffickers, is now being exploited. Minors from across the globe are now sent to our borders by families hoping to establish an immigration anchor in the United States. The overly broad provisions of the TVPRA virtually guarantee that unaccompanied minors will be admitted to the United States, and allowed to stay, in order to complete lengthy judicial proceedings that inadvertently encourage both fraud and further exploitation of children by parties savvy enough to exploit the system.
“Until our overwhelmed asylum system ceases to incentivize entry by those with meritless claims, our judicial system will continue to be overloaded and our borders will remain easily exploitable,” Stein concluded.
Contact: Matthew Tragesser, 202-328-7004