Questions about who should be granted asylum and humanitarian protection have been at the center of a contentious debate over US immigration policy and how the government should respond to the unprecedented level of immigration to the southern border.
During the COVID-19 epidemic, asylum processing at the United States-Mexico border has been partially suspended because it is known as an emergency measure.. But some immigrants are allowed to seek asylum. Other immigrants do not seek refuge. And not all refugees enter through the southern border.
While there is a federal judgeSince the Biden administration lifted Title 42 for now, the challenges facing the U.S. asylum system over the years – large backlog of applications and years of processing time, inconsistent policies and operational barriers – have intensified.
The Biden administration began enforcing it this weekIt hopes to improve the asylum system and speed up the processing of cases. But the policy will begin on a limited scale, and its success remains an open question, given its operational challenges, epidemics, record immigration arrests, and the issue of Republican leadership.
Here’s what you need to know about the US asylum system and the challenges it faces:
Who is eligible for US asylum?
For decades, U.S. law has allowed immigrants to grant asylum to immigrants who have suffered because of their nationality, race, religion, political opinion, or membership in a “special social group,” or who have a good fear of persecution in their home country.
TheIt must come from a government official or a person who is unable or unwilling to control the country. Poverty, scarce economic opportunities, displacement due to natural disasters or the desire to be reunited with one’s family are not grounds for asylum under US law.
While it uses the same legal threshold, refugee status is offered to individuals abroad. Asylum, on the other hand, is only available to those on American soil. With few exceptions, U.S. law allows immigrants who have entered the United States illegally to request asylum to prevent their deportation.
How does the asylum process work?
There are two types of asylum cases: “defensive” and “positive” requests.
Immigrants seeking government deportation, including those crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, may file protective asylum applications in an effort to prevent their deportation. These cases are decided by immigration judges from the Department of Justice, who also oversee the body of the appellate immigration court.
Immigrants with temporary legal status in the United States, such as short-term visa holders, and single children entering U.S. border detention without their parents, may submit positive asylum applications with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Immigrants seeking protective asylum must present their case in antitrust court hearings before judges and government prosecutors, and those with positive applications are interviewed by USCIS asylum officials.
Applicants whose asylum application has been rejected by immigration judges may be ordered deported, although they may appeal those decisions. Refugees rejected by USCIS are usually placed in a deportation process and their cases are transferred to the immigration court system for a final decision.
Immigrants granted asylum by an immigration judge or USCIS are allowed to stay in the United States permanently and can apply for a green card one year after the decision. Their children and spouses are also legally allowed to come and stay in the United States.
Are people currently on the United States-Mexico border allowed to take refuge?
It depends. For the past two years, U.S. border officials have used the Title 42 Public Health Authority to expedite the deportation of immigrants to Mexico or their home countries without allowing them to request asylum.
Immigrants have been expelled 1.9 million times from the southern border since the Trump administration called for Title 42 in March 2020, according to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data.
However, not all immigrants entering U.S. border detention are deported under Title 42, which is used primarily for single adults. The Biden administration, for example, has exempted some groups from Title 42 on humanitarian grounds, including unaccompanied minors.And some refugees.
Other immigrants have not been deported for a variety of reasons, including sanctions imposed by Mexico on who can be deported, operational challenges and strained diplomatic relations with countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Immigrants processed under the regular immigration process are allowedAnd are either transferred to asylum or long-term detention facilities, released with court notice, or deported directly from the southern border as part of a speedy removal process.
Only those placed in the expedited process are allowed to seek asylum if they establish a credible fear of persecution during a screening with USCIS officials.
Why is the asylum system broken?
Over the years, liberals and conservatives have argued that the US asylum system has collapsed, although they have offered various solutions to fix it.
Conservatives say the asylum system has been abused by economic immigrants who use it to live and work indefinitely in the United States, which they say encourages illegal immigration. Liberals have also criticized the delay in deciding asylum cases, saying they keep legal asylum seekers in legal limbo for years.
The undeniable truth is that the backlog of hundreds of thousands of unresolved cases has crippled the government’s ability to resolve asylum-related issues in a timely manner – and years of processing delays have exacerbated the COVID-19 epidemic, which has cut back on personal losses. Court hearings and USCIS interviews.
As of early 2022, 628,551 asylum applications were pending in the immigration court system, according to Justice Department figures. In total, there are more than 1.6 million pending cases in the immigration court system. USCIS, meanwhile, was monitoring 432,341 unresolved asylum requests in early 2022, according to the agency.
The Department of Justice currently has 578 immigration judges, while USCIS has 750 asylum officers. The Biden administration plans to hire more immigration judges and asylum officials, but the recruitment process is slow.
Due to the large backlog, immigrants wait an average of 1,621 days – or more than 4 years – for a hearing immigration court, according to an analysis of government data from the Syracuse University’s TRAC program. While USCIS aims to decide on positive asylum requests within six months, most cases have exceeded that deadline, agency data shows.
How many applicants have been granted asylum?
On the contraryThere is no limit to the number of asylum requests that can be granted by the President each fiscal year.
In fiscal year 2021, immigration judges approved 7,359 asylum requests and rejected 14,117 cases. In the first six months of fiscal year 2022, 8,494 asylum applications were approved by judges, while 9,738 were rejected, according to Justice Department figures.
USCIS granted asylum 7,118 times in fiscal year 2021, while rejecting 17,888 cases, the agency’s figures show. In the first three months of fiscal year 2022, USCIS approved 2,175 asylum requests and rejected 9,727 cases.
Overall, asylum grant rates in immigration courts have hovered around 20% or below since 2015. But rates vary depending on the area where the case is filed, the applicant’s nationality, the variables used in the calculation, and access to, or lack of, legal representation. Which government figures show.
The 2020 DHS report found that between fiscal years 2014 and 2019, 89% of Central American immigrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border were unable to resolve court cases.
How did the asylum policy change under Biden?
Through a number of regulations and international agreements, the Trump administration restricted asylum seekers and allowed border officials to quickly deport immigrants or wait in Mexico for their trial.
Shortly after taking office, President Biden suspended some of Trump’s asylum restrictions, including the so-called “stay in Mexico” program and agreements allowing the United States to re-route refugees to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
The Biden administration, however, retained title 42, defending it as a public health policy for more than a year. While this made the deportations an exception, the Biden administration has used more than 1.4 million immigrant deportations in the first 15 months, longer than the Trump administration and more often than not.
Last year, the Biden administrationA Trump policy that generally disqualifies victims of domestic and collective violence from asylum and will issue rules defining “special social group” grounds for asylum fought for decades. The rules are yet to be finalized.
How to fix the system?
The Conservatives have proposed reducing the eligibility of refugees, detaining them while their cases are being reviewed and deporting them. Liberals, meanwhile, have advocated linking refugees to lawyers, recruiting more asylum officials and speeding up case processing.
The Biden administration’s attempt to overhaul the asylum processing process on the southern border coincides with the latter approach. It is designed to speed up the decision by appointing USCIS officials to decide on asylum cases instead of finalizing all requests in the backlog immigration courts.
But it remains to be seen whether the authorities will be able to recruit adequate asylum officials and allocate adequate resources, including deportation flights for those whose cases are rejected, to achieve its objective of providing more expedited asylum grants or denials. This rule can also be blocked in court.
Recognizing that many immigrants traveling along the U.S.-Mexico border do not apply for or qualify for asylum, experts also suggest expanding legal immigration, such as work and family-based visas. Reduce the pressure on the country legally and thus the asylum system.
“Asylum does not solve everything at the border. Many of these people want to come to work. If we need people to work in this country, they should be able to come legally and they should not compromise on our asylum system,” said Muzaffar Chishti, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute.
At the same time, Chishti said the United States needs to find sustainable solutions to the challenges facing its refugee system in order to ensure that asylum seekers are granted asylum in accordance with US and international refugee law.
“Our asylum system does not serve anyone,” Chishti said. “It doesn’t serve the people who deserve it because we don’t give it to them for years, and it doesn’t remove people from the country who don’t deserve it.”