Caravan Reiterates Need to Fix Asylum Laws

Earlier this year, a caravan of nearly 1,500 Central Americans marched through Mexico to the U.S. southern border intending to claim asylum upon arrival. However, despite drawing international attention, ultimately the caravan disbanded with minimal pushback.

At the time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained the asylum process and highlighted how difficult it has become for federal agencies to manage the large influx of individuals claiming to have credible fear of returning to their home countries:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is tasked … with evaluating whether an apprehended alien’s claim of fear is credible. If DHS finds that it may be, the applicant is placed in removal proceedings and allowed to present an asylum claim to an immigration judge.

If DHS finds that the alien does not have a credible fear, the alien can still get an immigration judge to review that determination. In effect, those who would otherwise be subject to expedited removal get two chances to establish that their fear is credible.

The previous administration began to allow most aliens who passed an initial credible fear review to be released from custody into the United States pending a full hearing. These changes—and case law that has expanded the concept of asylum well beyond congressional intent—created even more incentives for illegal aliens to come here and claim a fear of return…

Claims of fear to return have skyrocketed, and the percentage of claims that are genuinely meritorious are down.

Congress must tighten the definition of credible fear and the process by which it is evaluated and clearly grant immigration authorities the discretion to refuse dubious claims at the border. However, in the nearly six months since the caravan pushed towards the United States, Congress has failed to do any of these things.

Because of this failure to act, there is now another caravan making its way to the southern border— this time with nearly 7,000 people intent on claiming asylum if they get caught. If the past is any indication of what we can expect upon arrival, the group, comprised largely of adults traveling with children, will attempt to cross into the United States illegally. Although most openly admit that they are seeking better economic conditions, they will, nevertheless, request asylum if apprehended. As noted by the attorney general, U.S. asylum laws have become a virtual guarantee that illegal aliens, particularly those with children in tow, will almost immediately be released into the U.S; and most will never even bother to appear for their immigration hearings.

On Monday, President Trump called on Congress to finally fix these loopholes. “Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy (sic). Must change laws!”

Unfortunately, Congress is on an extended hiatus until after the midterm elections in November. By the time our elected officials return to Washington, D.C., the caravan will undoubtedly have already begun to trickle into the United States through ports of entry.  But in a Congress that has failed to pass any substantive immigration reforms, the best opportunity for action will be in a Department of Homeland Security appropriations package that must be passed before December 7. Clearly Republicans are already eyeing this package as an opportunity to secure border wall funding; but the reality is a wall—without changes to current asylum law— couldn’t keep this caravan out

About Author


Heather Ham-Warren joined FAIR’s Government Relations department in 2018. In her role, Heather advocates for FAIR’s interests before Congress, the Administration, and federal agencies. She also reviews and analyzes federal legislation and regulations, as well as conducts research on a wide variety of legal and immigration-related topics. Heather brings with her several years of political and legislative experience having worked for legislatures at the both the state and federal levels. She began her career in D.C. working on Capitol Hill—most recently serving as Legislative Director for a Florida Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Florida and a Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law.


  1. avatar
    Veronica M Reimann on

    Stop calling it a caravan. IT IS AN INVASION OF THE USA just like the Japanese when they bombed PEARL HARBOR or when Hitler just RODE INTO POLAND. This will be just the start if we do not send our military to the border to protect AMERICAN CITIZENS.

  2. avatar

    The caravan will not be let in. Otherwise there will be no end to this. Maybe the Red Cross will set up a refugee camp for them on the Mexican side of the border.They just want jobs, opportunity. They will have to work with their government. Claim asylum in Mexico, or go home.

  3. avatar

    Stop Asylum ,,
    UN refugee agencies can handle it efficiently.



  4. avatar

    “Less than six months ago, a similar migrant caravan was allowed to cross into the U.S. with weak asylum claims despite threats from President Trump to close down the border.” These were let in and here we are once again, THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS MORE COMING TO INVADE THIS COUNTRY.. They MUST get the asylum laws set and MUST ENFORCE them.. we can’t be constantly taking in these people … There are many things they use to claim asylum which should NOT be … when allowed in, they are NOW a burden to the tax payers.. does anyone realize what this HUGE caravan will cost this country if they get in..?? It will be BILLIONS AND BILLIONS.. …WHO IS GOING TO PAY ALL THIS MONEY!!!! so it’s screw the American citizens while they cater to the invaders… IF these people get into the country, it will NOT end there.. MORE AND MORE OF THEM WILL COME.. There already is another caravan starting up to head this way… and HOW large do you figure it will grow…
    the people who think it is just okay to allow them in here, have NO clue… anyone thinking it is okay to just let them in.. you all should ask yourselves.. “Will I open my home so anyone can just walk in uninvited and I have to pay all his expenses, healthcare, food, etc… and he can live in my house free” this country is OUR home.. and NO NON-citizen has the right to enter it … coming is a privilege and you MUST have permission to enter…

    • avatar
      Patricia L Berry on

      Eighty to 90+ percent of the invaders are military age men. There are so little percent of them women and young children. This can be compared to the large masses admitted to Germany (of which are destroying that country with the blessing of the German president.

      If we do not focus on helping our won in need FIRST, we are acting like Germany and other nations that have allowed Sharia Law to take over otherwise democratic nations. In other words, we seemingly want to have a nation that abides under sensible laws already in place.

      The able bodied invaders should return and make changes to their own countries and not demand that we support them in every aspect – including welfare.

  5. avatar

    We can’t afford to take in any more of the world’s poor because we are going broke. We have borrowed $1 trillion from China and $1 trillion from Japan alone to help pay our bills.

    “Borrow money and you are the lender’s slave.”

    From the US Bureau of Economic Analysis:

    International Investment Position

    What is the international investment position?

    The accumulated value of U.S.-owned financial assets in other countries and U.S. liabilities to residents of other countries at the end of each quarter. The difference between assets and liabilities is the U.S. net international investment position.

    The international investment position accounts represent a statistical balance sheet between the United States and the world. They show the accumulated value of U.S.-owned financial assets in other countries and U.S. liabilities to residents of other countries at the end of each quarter. The difference between assets and liabilities is the U.S. net international investment position.

    U.S. Net International Investment Position: Second Quarter 2018

    End of 2nd quarter 2018:

    -$8,638.5 billion

    End of 1st quarter 2018:

    -$7,747.3 billion

    The U.S. net international investment position decreased to -$8,638.5 billion (preliminary) at the end of the second quarter of 2018 from -$7,747.3 billion (revised) at the end of the first quarter, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

  6. avatar

    Certain media are still trying to spin this into they are coming because of general violence in their home countries. First of all, that is not enough of reason to claim asylum. There is violence in lots of places. Like Chicago on any weekend. But what is really clear, as shown by interviews with many of these people, is that they are coming here for work.

    The media is also saying that Trump is wrong to say the Democrats are encouraging this. But has any Democrat actually said we need the military at the border to stop this invasion? No, what they constantly do is work actively against any and all efforts to control the border. Does anyone think President Hillary would have been doing anything about this other than just taking names at the border and then admit them into the country never to leave? A lot of us have heard how could you vote for Trump. Easy, the people who believe in a secure border and do not have a wish to become another failed third world society had no choice. Maybe one day that message will sink in.

    The Republicans may not be as great as they promise on the issue, but they are the only hope to stop the illegal entry and endless amnesties Democrats support. The Democratic party has moved beyond nuttiness. Free college education? Free for who? Not the taxpayers. Why should we pay for a 4 year vacation so someone can get their useless degree in art or modern dance and then go to work at Starbucks. No thanks, you pay for it.

  7. avatar
    Diana Talmadge on

    We need a wall as high as the one Mexico built to keep Guatemalans at bay..we must take care of our own poor & homeless!

  8. avatar

    The “asylum” system has been corrupted into an absolute RACKET by SJW’s, Open Borders lunatics, and shady [is there any other kind?] immigration lawyers. Applicants are all coached on the latest talking points – if there’s something amiss in their homeland, they’re going to claim to be a victim of it. You’re a Mexican male and the folks in your village make fun of you for wearing a dress? Well, you hit the Asylum Jackpot! Sure, it’s absurd, just the way Libtards like it.