Clinton Judge Keeps Asylum Door Open for Criminals

A day before they were to take effect, a U.S. district court judge in California blocked rules that would exclude more criminal aliens from gaining asylum in this country.

The new policy would have barred migrants charged in document fraud or multiple drunken-driving (DUI) cases from winning asylum. A civil finding of domestic violence, such as a restraining order, would also trigger a bar. Additionally, marijuana possession and convictions where asylum officers had reason to believe crimes were committed in furtherance of gang activity would be disqualifiers.

But Judge Susan Illston, a Clinton appointee, stepped in last Thursday to issue a nationwide injunction, clairvoyantly asserting that Congress never intended to deny asylum to such criminals.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials maintain that immigration law gives the executive branch authority to establish which crimes are disqualifiers. DHS lawyers further noted that those denied asylum can still argue for a stay of deportation under anti-torture provisions if in danger of persecution in their home countries.

All but the most extreme open-borders advocates admit that the U.S. asylum system is broken, and highly vulnerable to fraud. The 1.2 million migrants with asylum cases pending would constitute the 43rd largest state in the country today. Simply applying for asylum enables individuals to live and work here until their case is finally heard.

Over the past dozen years, federal immigration judges granted an average of only one of every five asylum claims. Still, the caseload swells. President Donald Trump described fraudulent and meritless asylum claims as “the biggest loophole … drawing illegal aliens to our borders.”

As reported by FAIR, the Trump administration has taken commonsense steps to improve the efficiency of the asylum system and fortify it against fraud and abuse. By blocking the administration’s latest effort, Judge Illston keeps the door open for more abuse.

President-elect Joe Biden, for one, has said he does not acknowledge drunken-driving arrests as felonies, though most states automatically count repeated DUIs as such. Biden’s solution to the asylum backlog is to grant amnesty to “over 11 million” aliens.

Sooner, rather than later, Congress must address the asylum issue. The last major legislation that attempted to reform the system was more than 15 years ago, when the caseload was a fraction of what it is today. Most Americans have no idea how large the asylum problem has become. With Judge Illston’s ruling, there’s little chance it will be fixed anytime in the near future.

About Author


Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

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