The need for immigration reform in the United States has sparked a bipartisan agreement, with notable disagreements about the direction such reform should take. Faced with the increase in illegal border crossings since 2020, conservative Republicans in Congress propose substantial changes to the asylum application process, from the criteria for applying to who would be eligible.
Law and immigration professor Jean Lantz Reisz sheds light on the changes suggested by Republicans, noting that their plan shares similarities with a rule adopted by the Department of Homeland Security in 2019 and a policy that President Joe Biden is currently trying to advance.
The current asylum system in the United States, designed to provide crucial aid to non-citizens who fear returning to their home countries, could undergo significant modifications if Republican lawmakers succeed in changing federal asylum law. This legislative change would override previous judicial decisions and affect applicants’ ability to obtain asylum.
Currently, any non-citizen, regardless of their immigration status, can apply for asylum once in the United States or at the border, within the first year of their arrival. However, Republicans propose changes that would make it more difficult for most applicants to obtain asylum.
The asylum application is a complex process that can take several years, especially for undocumented immigrants who often apply while in detention centers. Applicants must demonstrate that they face serious harm in their home country due to factors such as race, religion, political opinion, or nationality, and the process requires extensive evidence.
The increase in asylum applications, especially from countries like Venezuela and Honduras, has led to a significant rise in pending cases in immigration courts. Faced with this situation, Republicans recommend changes that would deny asylum to those who have traveled through a third country or do not enter through an official port.
These Republican proposals, already introduced in May 2023, make it more difficult to apply for asylum, requiring a significant amount of evidence during the initial interview with an asylum officer and eliminating programs that allow immigrants to stay with sponsors while seeking asylum.
If you’re interested in learning more about these topics, visit Paralegal Classes’ social media channels and join our live sessions every Wednesday.