A recent trend along Texas’ southern border involves illegal immigrants flocking to the U.S., turning themselves in to Border Patrol officials, and then expressing credible fear for their lives. Word has apparently spread throughout Central America that immigrants who take these steps have a good chance of obtaining asylum in the U.S.
The newly popular practice is straining federal resources, causing “detention facilities, asylum offices and immigration courts [to be] overwhelmed,” according to the New York Times.
Sylvia Longmire, Breitbart Texas Contributing Editor and border security expert, said, “While historically most illegal immigrants haven’t been aware of their legal option to request a credible fear interview and likely remain in the U.S. on supervised release before their hearing (prior to which many will abscond), word is slowly starting to spread. It’s placing a huge burden on agencies like CBP and ICE.”
Border Patrol Agent Chris Cabrera told the New York Times, “Word has gotten out that we’re giving people permission and walking them out the door. So they’re coming across in droves.”
Daniel Tirado, a spokesman for Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector, told Breitbart Texas that there has been a drastic increase of illegal immigrants crossing the border over the last year–many of these individuals end up requesting asylum. He added that on most occasions, the immigrants do not make such a request until after they have been in custody.
“We have seen a 50 percent increase in apprehensions over the last year, and that includes a spike in mothers and children” he said. “We’ve had a few immigrants ask for asylum on the spot, but most of them do it after they’ve been detained for a few days.”
Zack Taylor, Chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, told Breitbart Texas that the recent trend is no surprise. Expressing fear for his or her life is a “slam dunk” way for an illegal immigrant to obtain amnesty, he said.
“Once they make a claim like that, they are referred to an immigration hearing where it is decided if that claim is credible,” Taylor said. “The immigrants are given a form of alien registration before they even leave custody.”
Nina Pruneda, a spokeswoman from ICE, told Breitbart Texas, “When children with family members are encountered by ICE, officers make custody determinations based on an independent case review examining factors including past immigration and criminal history.”
Longmire pointed out that although many immigrants are genuinely in fear for their life, some groups may be taking advantage of the system.
Many immigrants “have been kidnapped, assaulted, or otherwise threatened by drug cartels, and many rightfully fear they will be seriously harmed or killed if deported,” Longmire said. “Some activist groups are intentionally overwhelming–and gaming–the system by sending 200+ immigrants requesting asylum at once to a singly port of entry.”
Reversing this increasing trend may prove to be difficult.
“If DHS believes that requiring bond payment will deter future illegal migration, they are sorely mistaken,” Longmire said, “Nothing–not incarceration nor the possibility of death in the Sonoran desert–will deter most migrants from attempting to enter the US illegally; they fear returning to the danger in their home countries more than they fear US-imposed consequences. Despite this, the federal government insists on implementing short term band-aid policies instead of moving forward with the much-needed overhaul of an immigration system that appears to be irreparably broken.”
Lee Stranahan reported for Breitbart News on the flood of asylum requests when it initially gained popularity in summer of 2013. 200 people gained entry to the U.S. near the San Diego border on one day for using the same key phrase: they claimed they had a “credible fear” of drug cartels.
At this point, it is unclear how U.S. officials and facilities will keep up with the increasing number of immigrants who state that they are in fear of their lives. Unless significant policy changes are made, the new tactic for gaining entry into the U.S. will likely continue to grow.
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate