Tens of thousands of people, mostly from Central America, have been arrested trying to cross the border with Mexico illegally. Most of the illegal border crossers, including parents and their children and children traveling alone, are seeking asylum. Most won’t win, the Wall Street Journal reports. About 6,300 asylum requests were approved between January and March 31, according to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the Justice Department office that manages the immigration court system where most asylum cases are decided. During the same period, about 90,000 people were arrested crossing the border illegally and about 32,700 immigrants went to ports of entry. Many of those people likely asked for asylum.
According to EOIR, about 22 percent of the asylum cases decided this year were approved, while 41 percent were denied. The approval rate in court has fluctuated since 2009. During that time, approvals hit a high of nearly 33 percent in 2011 but dropped below 17 percent in 2016. Asylum seekers have been in the spotlight since the Trump administration vowed to tighten the rules around asylum and pushed Congress to overhaul immigration laws. Administration officials have referred to asylum and laws and regulations that govern these cases as loopholes. There are more than 700,000 cases pending in immigration court, which means cases can take years to be completed. “Asylum and credible fear claims have skyrocketed across the board in recent years largely because individuals know they can exploit a broken system to enter the U.S., avoid removal, and remain in the country,” said Michael Bars of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Attorney General Jeff Sessions this month ruled in one asylum case that domestic violence victims and people fleeing generalized violence, including from gangs, won’t necessarily qualify for asylum going forward.