Easy pass: Asylum claims from Central America up over 800 percent

by WorldTribune Staff, June 21, 2018

A claim of “credible fear” of being returned home allows most immigrants from Central America a free pass into the U.S. And most remain even though few are actually granted asylum, Department of Justice and UN data show.

From 2012 to 2017, asylum claims from Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans have gone from 8,519 to 76,023.

The easy pass granted to immigrants, mostly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, who show up at U.S. ports of entry has led to a more than 800 percent increase in asylum claims from Central America in the past six years, the data show.

Statistics show that only 5 percent are granted asylum.

From 2012 to 2017, asylum claims from Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans have gone from 8,519 to 76,023, an increase of 892 percent.

“It’s not that conditions have changed much in these countries, but that they figured out that asylum was a way to get in the door,” said immigration policy expert Jessica M. Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies. “Clearly, the lenient policies that enable people to get into the United States just by claiming a fear of return – the ‘credible fear’ standard – is attracting more and more people every year.”

According to the DOJ and UN statistics, in 2016, more than 10,000 Honduran immigrants made asylum claims. Only 670 were approved. Of 17,000 El Salvadoran claims sought, just 753 were granted. Of 11,000 asylum claims from Guatemalans, fewer than 700 were granted.

“Something is wrong if we are approving 80 percent of the new arrivals for entry under the current ‘credible fear’ standard, but so few of them actually are approved,” Vaughan said. “They know they can make this claim and will be allowed in with no consequences, and can disappear into the larger illegal population, and may or may not show up for their immigration proceedings.”

Most of the surge came under former President Barack Obama and it overwhelmed immigration courts, Vaughan said.

“The reality is that many do not even file a formal application after we let them in on ‘credible fear’ and if they do, they often don’t show up for their hearing, and if they do and they are denied, they hide instead of show up for removal,” Vaughan said. “This is a farce that clogs up the asylum system and denies swift protection to the deserving applicants and their families.”

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