The genesis of the horrific impact of the disastrously managed U.S. asylum system on American border security can be traced to 2010, the second year of the Obama administration. It was in January of that year that Obama ICE Director John Morton first directed the agency to routinely apply “catch and release” parole to asylum applicants entering the country who passed the initial, notoriously easy “credible fear”interview.
Up until that time, the standard procedure was to hold asylum seekers who showed up at the U.S. border in detention until their cases were resolved. This practice, in addition to being in conformance with the governing immigration statute, had served as an effective disincentive to making invalid asylum claims. However, once the Obama administration began releasing asylum seekers on their own recognizance to await the adjudication of their cases, making an asylum claim quickly became the preferred tactic of tens and then hundreds of thousands of migrants attempting to enter the United States.
Fast forward to today, when the Biden administration has taken upon itself to turbocharge this abuse and in so doing, is breaking the back of U.S. immigration law enforcement and immigration courts.
According to Syracuse University’s TRAC data clearinghouse, by September (the end of the current fiscal year), the Biden administration is on track to have added at least 800,000 new asylum cases, more than double the nearly 667,000 pending asylum cases that were on the immigration court docket in September of last year. With a record-high and mounting backlog, God knows when the immigration courts will ever be able to plough through all these cases.
We may grant that several thousands of those cases, even several tens of thousands on the entire docket, are those of people with legitimate claims to facing deadly political, religious, ethnic or race-related persecution in their home countries. But the vast majority are simply using the facade of an asylum claim as the easiest means to obtain a fresh start in the U.S.
Take, for example, among the many from all over the world, Anastasia, a Russian hairdresser who claims that she “decided to leave [Russia] because [her] life was kind of not going anywhere.” She was easily able to use Facebook to find an immigration broker who charged her $2,500 to get her to and through Mexico where she then applied for political asylum using a false story written by her broker (for an extra fee, of course).
Asylum fraud occurs when one knowingly misrepresents information as part of their asylum application, like Anastasia who admitted to “using a false story” claiming that “[she] and [her] family are persecuted because [they] don’t like the authorities.”
Asylum fraud is also a serious national security issue. Take, for yet another hair raising example, Shihab Ahmed Shihab, an Iraqi national who has been in the U.S. since 2020 on a pending asylum application.
In late May of this year, the FBI arrested Shihab for his leadership role in a plot to smuggle other Iraqi and ISIS operatives across the U.S.-Mexico border to assassinate former President George W. Bush in Dallas. So far during the Biden administration, dozens of known or suspected terrorists have breached the U.S.-Mexico border.
Given the hundreds of thousands of “got-away” migrants during the past year who have evaded apprehension by U.S. authorities, that number is likely even higher. Indeed, the most chilling words we have heard during our work in recent months with border region law enforcement officials were those of Kenedy County Deputy Sheriff Eddie Cruz, who asked aloud about when the chaos will end: “What’s it going to take, another 9/11?”
Incredibly, instead of tightening asylum screening and requirements, the Biden administration continues to loosen them, incentivizing even more migrants to game and overwhelm the system.
As Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has stated in a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s implementation of new rules that make asylum even easier to obtain, “the last thing Texas needs is for this Administration to make it easier for illegal aliens to enter the U.S. and obtain asylum through false claims and less oversight.”
While Americans suffer the consequences of the Biden administration’s dangerous mismanagement of the asylum system, cartels, coyotes, and hostile foreign actors are profiting from it.
Our southwestern border is being flooded by migrants from over 160 nations who are taking advantage of the administration’s blatant disregard for the laws on the books, which require detention and thorough adjudication before any granting of asylum.
Correcting the gross abuse and mismanagement of the U.S. asylum system is the single most important task that must be accomplished in order to end America’s worsening border crisis. The American people need to deliver a mandate for this course correction when they elect a new Congress this fall. And come January 2023, the new Congress should focus on enacting that mandate as job No. 1.