Illegals say­ing ‘magic words’ to get asy­lum in U.S.

Claim fear in home coun­try when con­fronted on the bor­der

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Nearly one out of ev­ery 10 il­le­gal im­mi­grants cross­ing the south­west bor­der is now de­mand­ing asy­lum, us­ing “magic words” to claim they fear their home coun­try, and turn­ing a pro­gram in­tended to be a hu­man­i­tar­ian life­line into a new path for unau­tho­rized mi­grants to gain a foothold in the U.S.

It’s a ma­jor change over just the last five years as lax Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion poli­cies en­tice ever more mi­grants to try to ex­ploit the loop­hole, which the Bor­der Pa­trol’s chief calls a “fail in pol­icy.”

In 2010 less than 1 per­cent of those at the bor­der were re­quest­ing asy­lum from the agents or of­fi­cers who nabbed them. Now it’s 9 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to statis­tics the Im­mi­gra­tion Re­form Law In­sti­tute pried loose from the gov­ern­ment through an open records re­quest and pro­vided to The Wash­ing­ton Times.

The mi­grants are be­ing coached by friends and fam­ily or smug­glers, who col­lect thou­sands of dol­lars per per­son for their ef­forts, on the “magic words” to say to get put on the asy­lum track, bor­der of­fi­cials say.

“We know that they’re coach­ing in­di­vid­u­als on specif­i­cally what to say when they come here, that they just rat­tle off, and they mem­o­rize the magic words that they need to say so that they’ll fall within the statute of cred­i­ble fear,” Bor­der Pa­trol Chief Mark Morgan told the Se­nate Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee in a hear­ing last week.

Most re­cently, thou­sands of Haitians who have been liv­ing in South Amer­ica since a 2010

earth­quake in their home coun­try have swarmed north­ward, claim­ing asy­lum when they reach Cal­i­for­nia. They were ar­riv­ing at a rate of more than 100 a day.

Cen­tral Amer­i­cans have also caught on, help­ing feed the surge of chil­dren and fam­i­lies strain­ing bor­der op­er­a­tions in Texas.

But the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, while aware of the loop­hole, has not sug­gested any changes.

“U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion has not sought leg­isla­tive or pol­icy changes in re­gard to cred­i­ble fear claims,” agency spokesman Daniel Het­lage told The Times.

Asy­lum is the po­lit­i­cal pro­tec­tion granted to for­eign­ers who are al­ready in the U.S. or who ar­rive at its bor­ders. It is dis­tinct from the refugee process, which is for those still liv­ing out­side the coun­try but who ask for its po­lit­i­cal pro­tec­tion.

Those show­ing up at the bor­der who don’t have per­mis­sion to en­ter, whether caught by Bor­der Pa­trol agents or en­coun­tered by a CBP of­fi­cer at an of­fi­cial port of en­try, are sup­posed to be asked a se­ries of ques­tions to fig­ure out if they were be­ing per­se­cuted back home.

If they say they fear be­ing re­turned, they are put on the asy­lum track, which in­volves in­ter­views and hear­ings to eval­u­ate their claim.

Most of those who are claim­ing asy­lum will even­tu­ally be re­jected and are sup­posed to be de­ported. But be­cause of a 2009 Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion pol­icy change, Home­land Se­cu­rity no longer holds them while their cases are pro­ceed­ing, mak­ing it easy for them to dis­ap­pear into the shad­ows with other il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

“Since that pol­icy change, as we can see now, the num­ber of th­ese aliens has sky­rock­eted, and the won­der­ful job our bor­der pa­trol agents do has been all for naught,” said Dale Wil­cox, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and gen­eral coun­sel of the IRLI, which pur­sued the open records re­quest on be­half of the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Im­mi­gra­tion Re­form.

Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans say the 2009 pol­icy change runs con­trary to the in­tent of the law. A Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion could quickly re­verse the pol­icy, which an­a­lysts said could go a long way to­ward stem­ming the flow.

Mex­ico’s ma­jor drug traf­fick­ing car­tels, which also con­trol most of the hu­man smug­gling routes along the bor­der, have learned how to game the U.S. sys­tem, boost­ing the smug­glers’ suc­cess rate and en­tic­ing new busi­ness — and along the way earn­ing more cash for them­selves, Mr. Wil­cox said.

“This is money and sup­port that they would not be re­ceiv­ing if the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­tu­ally en­forced our im­mi­gra­tion laws,” he said.

The num­bers show just how quickly the car­tels have fig­ured things out.

In 2012 bor­der of­fi­cials recorded just 8,147 il­le­gal im­mi­grants ask­ing for asy­lum. That grew to 28,793 in 2014, and through the first 10 months of 2016 it had reached a stag­ger­ing 46,628, ac­cord­ing to the statis­tics pro­vided to IRLI.

“That’s be­ing ex­ploited,” Chief Morgan told Congress. “It’s been go­ing well be­yond the orig­i­nal in­tent of the pur­pose of cred­i­ble fear.”


Many il­le­gal im­mi­grants cross­ing the Rio Grande iare de­mand­ing U.S. asy­lum, claim­ing that fear of op­pres­sion back home has sent them north. Th­ese “magic words” whisk the mi­grants to asy­lum sta­tus.

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