June 11 (UPI) — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday he will issue a strict interpretation of U.S. asylum law to crack down on illegal immigration.
Sessions said the United States’ laws have been abused at the expense of those who deserve asylum the most.
“Asylum is available for those who leave their home country because of persecution or fear on account of race, religion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group or political opinion,” Sessions said Monday. “Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems — even all serious problems — that people face every day all over the world.”
Sessions argued refugees who enter the United States illegally abuse the system by “claiming a fear of return,” and then disappear after they’re released from custody pending an immigration hearing.
Sessions said asylum claims have skyrocketed from 5,000 in 2009 to 94,000 in 2016 — but those deemed legitimate by immigration judges have actually declined over that span.
Further, the current backlog of immigration cases is about 700,000 — more than triple what it was in 2009.
Sessions said Monday he would soon issue a decision that “restores sound principles of asylum and long standing principles of immigration law.”
He added that immigration judges should complete at least 700 cases a year, or about the average. He also said 100 new immigration judges will be hired this year.
Sessions did not outline all the changes he will make, but promised they will help judges work more efficiently.
“This decision will provide more clarity,” Sessions said. “It will help [judges] to rule consistently and fairly.”