While the number of apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border have gone down, applications for asylum are reaching all-time highs.
Around 304,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended at the southwest border during the 2017 fiscal year, a dramatic plunge from the 1.6 million apprehensions recorded in 2000.
At the same time, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recored 78,564 requests for asylum in 2017, a major increase from the 13,880 requests made in 2012.
These numbers have only increased.
During this fiscal year, the USCIS recorded a record-setting 99,035 asylum requests — 62,609 of which included Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans.
“We’ve never seen this many people coming to the border to seek asylum,” Faye Hipsman, a former analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, told The Wall Street Journal.
The rise in asylum applications come at a time when the White House is working to reform the process.
“My administration is finalizing a plan to end the rampant abuse of our asylum system to halt the dangerous influx and to establish control over America’s sovereign borders,” President Donald Trump announced in early November, around the same time a caravan of Central Americans was heading toward the U.S. border. “Under this plan, the illegal aliens will no longer get a free pass into our country by lodging meritless claims in seeking asylum.” (RELATED: ‘Non-Meritorious’ Asylum Seekers From Central American Crowd Out Legitimate Applicants)
The president made good on his promise, signing an executive order days later that required migrants to make their claims of asylum at official ports of entry on the border. Any migrants who crossed illegally and turned themselves into border agents would be considered ineligible for an asylum application.
However, the U.S. court system has proven an obstacle, with a judge from the Northern District of California blocking Trump’s executive order.
The administration has vowed to fight the ruling.
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