The Corner

Insane Asylum

Another thing the Democrats’ amnesty bill would do is eliminate the requirement that asylum applications be filed within one year after the person’s last entry into the United States. The deadline rule was passed by Congress in 1996 to incorporate into U.S. law a provision of the U.N. refugee convention that illegal aliens must be permitted to apply for asylum “provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities.” One might think that a full year is a pretty broad definition of “without delay” (the Republican sponsors of the bill originally wanted 180 days), but at least it’s a deadline. But if the deadline were repealed, an illegal alien who’d lived here for years and finally gotten caught would again be free to concoct a bogus asylum claim in order to delay his removal. This would take us back to the bad old days when asylum claims were routinely used by immigration lawyers as a dilatory tactic and the backlog of unresolved asylum claims ballooned.

But this administration doesn’t need Congress to turn asylum back into an engine of illegal immigration (and terrorism). It announced new rules this week that require the release of people who arrive in the U.S. and are found to have a “credible fear of persecution” — that doesn’t mean they get asylum, just that their claim for it isn’t absurd and warrants a hearing. They will be paroled in the U.S. and given work authorization. If they fail to show up for their hearings, they will be considered fugitives and issued a deportation order in absentia. This is how WTC bombers Ramzi Yousef and Ahmed Ajaj were released into the U.S.; see the details in the long pdf of the 9/11 Commission staff’s immigration report, here, co-authored by my Center for Immigration Studies colleague Janice Kephart.

But it gets better, because the previous week, ICE issued new rules for which of today’s 500,000-plus fugitives like this immigration agents are supposed to look for. And, guess what — they’re not supposed to bother with people who’ve been issued deportation orders in absentia!

Raise your hand if you think alien smugglers and terrorists are already adapting their tactics based on this windfall and coaching their clients on how to make plausible-sounding asylum claims that may not hold up in court but are good enough to get them released and issued work authorization, after which they’re home free. Unbelievable.

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