“The Real Border Crisis Is About Foreigners Gaming America’s Asylum Laws”

That’s the title of a new piece at the Federalist by population economist Lyman Stone. In it, Stone explains why, “We need a wall, but we also need the resources to defend the wall: judges to convict violators, court officers to manage detention centers, etc.” Here are some excerpts:

A key channel for obtaining legal stay in the United States is to apply for asylum. The right of asylum is enshrined in U.S. law, and is recognized by virtually every country in the world. …

[T]otal asylum applications through the end of 2017 … have been surging. There were about 40,000 or 50,000 applications per year during the 2000s, but in 2017 asylum applications reached about 260,000. …

Much of this is driven by Central American asylum-seekers. 2017 saw nearly 115,000 petitions for asylum from Salvadoreans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans, as well as 27,000 from Mexicans. In 2010, it was just 6,000 for the three Central American countries, and 4,000 from Mexico. …

[T]hese claims are the least likely to be valid claims of asylum. …

[B]y the start of 2018, pending asylum cases had risen to 642,000 cases, from just 6,300 at the end of 2010. That’s a 100-fold increase in the number of people just waiting around, wondering when their case will be resolved. …

The courts are overburdened and need more resources: more officers, more holding cells, more judges. But beyond this, the asylum program was never meant to process hundreds of thousands of people every year. It’s designed for specific cases of credible fear, not the blanket admission of mass movements of people. …

A combination of the wall, improved resources for immigration courts, and a sound “remain in Mexico” plan will almost certainly do the trick at reducing problematic asylum claims. With these fixes made, the asylum crisis will resolve itself in short order, and we can all go back to arguing about something else.

Jon Guze / Director of Legal Studies

Jon Guze is the Director of Legal Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the John Locke Foundation, Jon practiced law in Durham, North Carolina for over twent...

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