President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement program is failing due to a four-year asylum hearing backlog, an opinion article in The Hill contends.
It is the immigration enforcement program’s policy to deport undocumented im- migrants to their country of origin, unless they express a “credible fear” of returning. An asylum officer assigned to the claim determines whether “credible fear” is present in individual cases, said Nolan Rappaport, the article’s author. If the officer denies the claim, applicants can request an administrative review of the decision, which will be performed by an immigration judge. If the judge then rejects the claim, the immigrant is deported.
As of July, 330 immigration judges presided over 58 immigration courts with a combined backlog of 733,365 cases, the article said, amounting to approximately 2,200 cases per judge.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions clarified the asylum eligibility requirements to make it easier to screen out immigrants who do not have a legitimate persecution claim. Though this might stop the backlog from growing larger, it can’t reduce it, Rappaport said.
Rappaport argued that Trump will need a legalization program to eliminate the backlog entirely, as many of the immigrants in removal proceedings have been physically present for at least two years.