AILA Quicktake #262: Asylum and the Southern Border — An Update

Reports of increasing numbers of asylum seekers at the southern border have resulted in the administration charging that the federal government cannot manage the arrivals without more resources. AILA’s Greg Chen explains why what we really need is a better management of the available resources.

Video Transcript

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Recent reports of asylum seekers arriving in greater numbers
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at the southern border have resulted in claims by the administration
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that the federal government cannot manage the arrivals without more resources.
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In recent days, dissatisfied with DHS’s response,
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the President has even shaken up the leadership at DHS.
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The administration is responsible for
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the poor management of people arriving at our borders.
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It’s claims about a massive crisis are wildly inflated.
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The administration’s own policies including family separation,
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the asylum ban, and Remain in Mexico, have created the chaos at the border.
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These policies are hurting families and children, and other vulnerable individuals,
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many of whom will qualify for asylum and need to be screened properly.
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What we need is an orderly procedure and better management of resources.
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AILA is urging a new approach:
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using the resources the government has already at its disposal.
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This includes improving ports of entry, providing more trained and qualified
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personnel to conduct thorough screenings of migrants,
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and a better functioning immigration court system.
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Beyond our borders, the administration should work with other country governments
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to address the root causes of the migration and it should propose
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a robust refugee resettlement program throughout Americas region.
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Overall, the number of migrants coming to the U.S. southern border
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are low compared to just over a decade ago.
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From 2000 to 2005, an average of more than a million people
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were apprehended every year at the southern border.
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What has increased are the number of families and children from Central America
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fleeing from violence and persecution who may qualify for asylum
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or other humanitarian protection under U.S. law.
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Even with more asylum seekers coming from Central America,
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the overall numbers are still a fraction of arrivals in past years.
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DHS, USCIS, immigration courts, and other government agencies have the resources to
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process these cases efficiently and fairly, and consistent with US law.
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Should asylum laws be changed? In a word: No.
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Already U.S. asylum and humanitarian law
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narrowly construes who qualifies for protection.
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As a result, many vulnerable people will not qualify for asylum or other relief.
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But for generations our nation has been committed to protecting asylum seekers.
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U.S. law requires the government to fully review each case
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and ensure each asylum seeker is given a fair decision.
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No one wants to make the mistake of sending a mother or child back
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who will be persecuted, tortured, or even killed.
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The administration is using vulnerable families at the border
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as pawns to escalate a political battle.
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Instead it should focus on managing the situation
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in an orderly and humane way.
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The United States can secure the border while simultaneously ensuring
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that asylum seekers are provided thorough and meaningful review.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 19040835.