New data shows asylum claims spiking at U.S. ports of entry
SAN DIEGO – December 11, 2018
The number of migrants requesting asylum at ports of entry at the Mexican border doubled in financial year 2018 from the previous year, according to Customs and Border Protection data released on Monday.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection released the figures Monday reflecting the first step in the asylum process. The agency fielded nearly 93,000 claims of so-called "credible fear" in the 2018 fiscal year ending Sept. 30, up 67% from the previous year. The claims accounted for 18% of all people arrested or stopped at the border, up from 13%.
It was the first time it released such figures.
Meanwhile the new data also shows the percentage of foreigners who entered the country illegally before requesting asylum was the same in 2018.
From 2000 to 2016, the U.S. granted asylum to an average of 26,651 foreigners a year, according to Department of Homeland Security data.
In financial year 2018, which ended in September, 38,269 people requested asylum at U.S. ports of entry along the southern border, representing 3% of those found “inadmissible” by port officers. In 2017, that number was 17,284, or 16% of those found inadmissible by port officers.
Over the same time period, the pace of people crossing illegally before requesting asylum remained steady. In financial year 2018, 54,690 people entered the country illegally before requesting asylum, representing 14% of all illegal border crossers that year. In 2017, that number was 38,300, or about 13% of all illegal border crossers.
Each of the parties, both supporters and opponents of Trump, interprets this data in their favor. Democrats say that such a picture raises questions about the Trump administration’s purely law enforcement-focused response to migrant caravans because more and more migrants are doing exactly what the U.S. government has asked them to do: present themselves at a port of entry to make their asylum claim.
Of the more than 5,000 migrants who arrived in Tijuana in recent weeks, many are planning to apply for asylum in the U.S. Proponents say that his policy is proving to be effective, because it is possible to contain the influx of illegal immigrants at the same level, even in an acute crisis, when the number of those wishing to break through at any cost in the U.S. has increased significantly.
The number of asylum applications has skyrocketed in recent years, from 5,000 in 2008 to 97,000 in 2018, mostly fuelled by Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty.
Federal law allows foreigners to request asylum once they reach American soil, whether they enter through a port of entry or cross illegally.
President Trump ordered last month that asylum be denied to anyone who enters the country illegally from Mexico, but a federal judge in San Francisco blocked him. An appeals court upheld the judge’s decision on Friday.
On Monday, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said the overall increase in asylum claims requires significant changes from Congress to help his agency deal with the flow.
“These numbers reflect a dramatic increase in initial fear claims by those encountered on the border, which is straining border security, immigration enforcement and courts, and other federal resources,” McAleenan said.