Goodlatte slams Obama administration’s asylum loophole, presses DHS for answers

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte is pointing the finger of blame for the recent surge in asylum seekers at the Obama administration.

Since FY 2009, “credible fear” asylum requests, largely from Mexico, have quadrupled from 5,369 to 19,119 through May of FY 2013 — and if current trends persist, 28,679 total requests for FY 2013, or a 434 percent increase over five years, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

According to the Virginia Republican, the increase in “credible fear” requests correlate with the Obama administrations’ policy, instituted in 2010, of prematurely releasing asylum seekers — a policy Goodlatte explained runs contrary to immigration law.

“According to the most recent data available, DHS is permitting 92% of these claimants to move forward to further proceedings, despite the fact that press reports indicate that up to 91% of these claimants from Mexico are ultimately denied,” Goodlatte wrote Wednesday in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

“In addition, most are likely being released into the U.S. pending further proceedings before Immigration Judges as opposed to being detained as required by law,” he added. “I am concerned that credible fear claims are being exploited by illegal immigrants in order to enter and remain in the United States.”

Goodlatte noted that according to recent press reports many of the asylum claims are fake and the result of coaching.

“The aliens allegedly claim that they have a credible fear of return to Mexico based on drug cartel and gang violence.  According to critics, asylum claims from Mexico are highly unusual and often are an orchestrated sham,” He wrote.

ABC News 10 reported earlier this month that there is a $300 video available for purchase in Mexico as well as instructional classes that teach immigrants what to say, using “key words and phrases,” to be allowed entry to the United States.

“Not only is the rise in credible fear claims concerning, but I am concerned with the inability of the Administration to follow the current law that pertains to the asylum process.  Pursuant to §235(b)(1)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), arriving aliens are subject to mandatory detention whether they are found to have credible fear or not,” Goodlatte wrote, noting that on December 9, 2010 former ICE Director John Morton issued a policy directive allowing arriving aliens that have “been found to have a credible fear and can establish identity, that they are not a flight risk, or a danger to the community” to be released.

“And not surprisingly, the timing of this memo appears to correlate with the uptick of credible fear claims in recent years.  Additionally, while ICE is not detaining these aliens, Fiscal Year 2012 Executive Office of Immigration Review statistics demonstrate that 29% of released aliens failed to appear for their immigration court proceedings,” he continued.

Goodlatte concluded his letter said that his committee will be conducting oversight on the matter in as it proceeds with the House’s step-by-step approach to comprehensive immigration reform and requested a briefing on the matter with the Department of Homeland Security.

Illegal immigrants claiming asylum have overwhelmed processing centers on the Southern border. Harried ICE agents bought $99-a-night hotel rooms earlier in August for the immigrants before releasing them into major cities.

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