Washington, D.C. — The House Judiciary Committee has obtained information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that shows 65% of unaccompanied alien minors’ asylum applications have been immediately approved by asylum officers in Fiscal Year 2014. And this is just the first bite of the apple.  Many more cases can be approved later.  Where an asylum officer does not approve the application, it is then referred to an immigration judge where the applicant can try again.  If that fails, they can continue to appeal their case.  Once individuals are granted asylum, they have access to all major federal welfare programs.

Asylum approval rates overall have increased dramatically in recent years. Approval rates by asylum officers have increased from 28% in 2007 to 46% in 2013 and approval rates by immigration judges in affirmative cases have increased from 51% in 2007 to 74% in 2013.  Combining both of these approval rates, the vast majority of aliens who affirmatively seek asylum are now successful in their claims. This does not even take into account appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals or federal courts. At the same time, an internal Department of Homeland Security report shows that at least 70% of asylum cases contain proven or possible fraud. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) released the statement below on this new information.

Chairman Goodlatte:  “President Obama’s refusal to crack down on rampant asylum fraud is one of the many reasons we are witnessing a surge of Central Americans seeking to enter the U.S. illegally at the border. New data showing that the vast majority of Central Americans’ asylum claims are immediately approved will only worsen the situation along our southern border by encouraging more to come and take advantage of the situation. Our asylum laws are in place to help individuals who are facing truly serious persecution in their countries. However, while I was in the Rio Grande Valley earlier this month, law enforcement officials on the ground said that the vast majority of Central Americans arriving at our border come to meet up with another family member who is already in the United States illegally.

“President Obama has many tools at his disposal to stop this border crisis, including cracking down on fraudulent asylum claims and implementing tougher standards for preliminary asylum screenings. Unfortunately, he refuses to use these tools and instead makes the situation worse by refusing to enforce our immigration laws.”

Additional Background: Earlier this month, Chairman Goodlatte led a bipartisan delegation to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to examine this crisis and seek solutions on how best to stop it. During the trip, members of the House Judiciary Committee toured federal facilities and met with those dealing with this problem firsthand at the border, including law enforcement officers and federal officials from the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Health and Human Services. Key findings from the trip can be found here. Yesterday, Chairman Goodlatte and Congressman Jason Chaffetz introduced the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act, which stops the border crisis by ending many of President Obama’s policies that have caused the crisis and making targeted changes to current laws that have exacerbated the crisis.