The tidal wave of asylum seekers at America’s southern border is washing out in U.S. immigration courts.
After years of roughly even odds of winning asylum, migrants’ chances of winning asylum are steadily diminishing, with denial rates hitting an all-time high of 65 percent in 2018. Asylum applicants were rejected 61.8 percent of the time in 2017 and turned down at a 56.5 percent clip in 2016. Five years earlier, approvals were granted in 56 percent of cases.
Denial rates vary widely by region. Currently, judges are toughest in Charlotte, N.C., where 88 percent of asylum claims were rejected.
Apparently word travels fast, as increasing numbers of sketchy asylum seekers are blowing off the courts altogether.
Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kevin McAleenan told the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that 90 percent of asylum claimants failed to appear for their hearings. Referencing a DHS survey of pending asylum applications involving “family units,” McAleenan reported, “Out of those 7,000 cases, 90 received final orders of removal in absentia.”
Of course, these scofflaws aren’t going anywhere if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cannot find them.
To end the judicial charade and get a handle on the metastasizing case load, the Trump administration announced plans this week to deny asylum to migrants who fail to apply for protections in at least one country they passed through on their way north.
Under the new rule, Hondurans and Salvadorans would have to apply for — and be denied — asylum in Guatemala or Mexico before they could be apply in the United States. Guatemalans would have to apply for and be denied asylum in Mexico.
Cubans, Haitians and a rapidly growing number of Africans who travel through Mexico to the southwestern border would also be covered by the new policy.
“This rule is a lawful exercise of authority provided by Congress to restrict eligibility for asylum,” Attorney General William Barr said. Per usual, American Civil Liberties Union lawyers object and say they will see Barr & Co. in court. You know they will show up.