Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) issued the following statement after a February 28th memo from John Lafferty, the chief of the Asylum Division at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, was leaked to press late last week. The memo announces a revision to the Asylum Division Officer handbook that raises the standards for "credible fear" determinations in asylum interviews in an effort to reduce increasing rates of asylum fraud.
Chairman Goodlatte: "The United States provides asylum to thousands of aliens each year who face the threat of persecution at home. Unfortunately, our generous asylum policies have become subject to large levels of abuse, especially by those who claim to have a "credible fear' of persecution. As the House Judiciary Committee uncovered at a hearing on December 12, 2013, aliens arriving at the border have been granted credible fear determinations at ever growing rates over the past several years. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services now finds credible fear in an incredible 92% of all cases decided on the merits. In addition, the Obama administration rarely detains aliens found to have a credible fear pending their eventual hearings before immigration judges, despite large numbers of fraudulent applications, including those with ties to drug cartels and other criminal organizations. These aliens are released into our communities and many will never show up for their court dates and simply become fugitives. Unfortunately, word about this easy method to gain entry into the U.S. has spread around the world and claims of credible fear have increased by 586% in recent years.
"I am pleased to have learned that following our hearing, the Obama administration is finally taking the first tentative step towards dealing with this crisis. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the message is being sent to adjudicators to not simply rubber stamp credible fear applications and to only find that the credible fear standard has been met when an alien shows a "significant possibility' of winning an asylum case before an immigration judge. In order to meet that standard, aliens have to "demonstrate a substantial and realistic possibility of succeeding in court.' While this change is a good start, I urge the Obama Administration to take other steps necessary to resolve this crisis along our borders."