Saturday, August 10, 2019

How Asylum is Abused Every Day

Credit: Herika Martinez/Getty Images
Economic migrants use it as an easy means into the country, but Trump has options.
America’s asylum laws, meant to help the most vulnerable, have instead become a clogged backdoor for economic migrants. The Trump administration is restoring asylum to its correct role in American immigration policy. It’s the right thing to do, but almost nobody is satisfied. Here’s why.
Asylum is a very old concept, dating back to the ancient Greeks. It recognizes that a person persecuted by his own country can be offered residence and protection by another country. The actual conditions vary considerably across the globe (the U.S. considers female genital mutilation grounds for asylum while in many nations it is an accepted practice). But in most cases, asylum is offered to people who face a well-founded fear of persecution if sent home on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social group.
The definition of those five protected grounds have also varied greatly based on shifts in American domestic politics. Since 1994, for example, LGBT status has been, and remains under Trump, a possible claim to asylum. Domestic violence was granted consideration as grounds under the Obama administration, only to be rolled back under Trump.
But even as those criteria have changed with the political winds, asylum has never been simply about wanting a better life. Poverty, for all its horrors, has never fallen alongside race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social group (though it is often assumed to by progressive journalists without access to the Internet and certain Democratic legislators from the Bronx).
The reality of 2019 is that the asylum system has evolved into a cheater’s backdoor, a pseudo-legal path to immigration not otherwise available to economic migrants. They lack either the skills for working visas or the ties to qualify for legal immigration under America’s family reunification system. So they walk to the border and ask for asylum, taking advantage of previous administrations’ look-the-other-way “solution” to their ever-growing numbers. Affirmative asylum claims, made at ports of entry, have jumped 35 percent over the last two years, even as refusal rates for those cases along the Southern border have run into the 80th percentile.
It works—for them. A Honduran on the border who says he came to work is sent back almost immediately. However, should he make a claim to asylum, the U.S. is obligated to adjudicate his case. Since detaining asylum seekers and their families while the processes play out is expensive and politically distasteful (kids in cages!), until recently most asylum seekers were instead released into American society to wait out their cases. They then became eligible for work authorization if their cases extended past 150 days, as almost all did. The number of pending cases in early 2019 was 325,277, more than 50 times higher than in 2010.
Read the rest from Peter Van Buren HERE.

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