Asylum Claims Soar; Everyone Wants to Come to America

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

July 25, 2013

By Joe Guzzardi, CAPS Senior Writing Fellow
July 25, 2013

During the last five years, asylum requests in the United States have nearly quadrupled.  Most claims come from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. According to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services’ Associate Director Joseph Langlois, the agency received more than 19,119 asylum requests through May. USCIS anticipates receiving 28,600 more by fiscal year-end September. During fiscal 2009, the agency received just 5,369 such requests.

Langlois said the surge in asylum requests, which he describes as "credible fear" claims, has occurred predominantly in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. So far this year, more than 12,400 requests have come from South Texas, compared to about 3,400 in 2009, according to Langlois' testimony. [Asylum Requests from Immigrants Rise in U.S., by Alicia Caldwell, Associated Press, July 16, 2013]

But such claims, while possibly valid, are virtually impossible to confirm and too often led to fraud and rampant abuse. Asylum is one of the many contentious issues included in the recently Senate-passed Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744. Under the bill’s provisions, asylum petitioners already living in the U.S. would no longer be formally required to apply within a year of arrival. Critics say that liberalizing asylum terms by eliminating the deadline would increase fraud.

Langlois explained the spike in asylum requests to increased drug trafficking, violence and overall rising crime in those Central American countries. Before granting asylum, the petitioner must prove that his government cannot or will not protect him. 

But if asylees are seeking refuge from murder and mayhem and safe haven in a government that has its citizens' best interest at heart, they should look outside of the U.S. Since 2010, several major cities have imposed curfews on teenagers in an effort to protect innocent would-be victims: Columbia, South Carolina; Newark, New Jersey; Cleveland Heights, Ohio; Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; New Orleans, Louisiana; East St. Louis, Missouri; Gary, Indiana; Memphis, Tennessee; Kansas City, Missouri and Macon, Georgia.

Over Independence Day in Chicago, America’s most dangerous city, 11 were murdered while 67 were shot and wounded.

S. 744 could, but does not, help deport criminal aliens. While it technically bars legal residency admissibility to known criminals, Sec. 2101, INA245B(b)(3)(B)(i), p.65 outlines grounds of inadmissibility that are waivable which would exempt persons with three or more misdemeanors, known gang members and “all other grounds not specifically enumerated.” See more at: http://www.capsweb.org/blog/asylum-claims-soar-everyone-wants-come-america#sthash.mvqSoYW4.dpuf

Asylees would not be subject to background checks. And probably, many criminals would be included among the Central American petitioners. Since the U.S. can’t control crime within its own borders, and has no plans to deport known criminal aliens, embarking on a magnanimous asylum policy is ill-advised no matter how compelling the individual stories may sound.

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