Washington, D.C. — The Obama Administration today announced that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will expand the number of family detention beds and send trial attorneys and immigration judges to the border to address the sudden surge of children, teenagers, and families seeking to enter the United States illegally. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) criticized the Administration’s solution to this crisis in the statement below.

Chairman Goodlatte: “President Obama’s plan to deal with the crisis at the border created by his administration’s bad immigration policies is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Many of the children, teenagers, and adults arriving at the border are able to game our asylum and immigration laws because the Obama Administration has severely weakened them and many thousands have already been released into the interior of the United States. What does President Obama plan to do with those who have already been released from custody?

“If President Obama really wants to fix this problem, he should implement real solutions, such as enforcing our immigration laws, reversing his policies that created this mess in the first place, and proposing urgently needed legislative fixes. But unfortunately, he is using deceptive tactics to make it appear that he is doing something when he actually isn’t.” 

Background:  Unaccompanied alien minors are not subject to expedited removal under current law, and many – if not a majority – of them are eligible for immigration relief under current law. 

Asylum Loophole and Fraud: The House Judiciary Committee obtained an internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report which shows that at least 70% of asylum cases contain proven or possible fraud, approval rates of asylum applications are skyrocketing, supposedly former members of violent gangs are getting asylum, and non-detained aliens who are denied asylum are rarely successfully deported.   

Furthermore, family units caught along the border or at ports of entry can claim a ‘credible fear’ of persecution in order to seek a hearing before an immigration judge and can also receive work authorization while their case is pending. Over the past several years, “credible fear” claims have been granted at ever growing rates under the Obama Administration. Currently, data provided by DHS shows that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) makes positive credible fear findings in 92% of all cases decided on the merits. In fact, credible fear claims have increased 586% from 2007 to 2013 as word has gotten out as to the virtual rubberstamping of applications.

The Obama Administration contributes to undermining our asylum system by failing to follow current law as it pertains to the asylum process.  Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, family units are subject to mandatory detention whether they are found to have credible fear or not until it is determined whether they have legitimate asylum claims. The detention standard was enacted because large numbers of arriving aliens were absconding after claiming asylum and being released.  However, these standards have been watered down by the current Administration via executive fiat. A December 8, 2009, policy directive issued by former ICE Director John Morton provides that any arriving alien who has been found to have a credible fear and can establish identity and argue that they are not a flight risk or a danger to the community should be released by ICE. 

Minors Eligible for Green Cards: Minors arriving at the border also can seek an unlimited number of Special Immigrant Juvenile green cards.

 On Wednesday, June 25th at 2:00 p.m., the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on this issue, entitled “An Administration-Made Disaster: The South Texas Border Surge of Unaccompanied Minors.”