The COVID pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests and riots claim top spots in the news feed; as far as the media are concerned, highly contested immigration-control efforts have been relegated to the back page. But the Trump administration has bulldozed along, clearing a path for legal immigration while rooting out illegal attempts. The president’s new proposal to streamline the court process has, of course, met with strong disapproval, opponents claiming it would make it virtually impossible for asylum seekers to ever be approved. Is that truly the goal, or could it be that immigration courts are so backed up there is at least a two-year wait for a hearing?
Legal immigration has never been the issue, but since Donald Trump took up residence in the Oval Office, the left has decided to flip the narrative and call the president and his supporters evil for any effort to maintain border security. Demands for immigration reform range from open borders and financial support for illegal aliens on one side, while the other calls for secure borders and rigorous rule enforcement. One of the biggest hurdles is the immigration-court backlog, which requires years for immigrants to put their case before a judge. And that problem has only escalated since Trump was elected.
In January 2017, backlogged cases in the program numbered 542,111, compared to April 2020, when a whopping 1,166,085 awaited a hearing. Add to that a shortage of knowledgeable immigration judges available to meet the high demand. The changes suggested in the president’s proposal would reduce the number of claims that are without merit and work toward a more efficient process. Critics, however, claim asylum seekers will be left out in the cold.
One op-ed writer, Nickole Miller, declared that Trump’s proposal was a direct challenge to asylum seekers, arguing that making the rules more strict and coherent will “deny claims where the applicant suffered persecution on account of gender.” The implication is a bit misleading since the proposal is not aimed at women or gender and would not likely “shut the door to safety for women and girls fleeing rape, domestic violence and sexual abuse,” as the commentator fears.
The proposal does not target women; it seeks rather to de-escalate illegal entry into the United States. It also is not trying to prevent refugees from seeking legitimate asylum but to find a way to make it quicker and more efficient. Part of the proposed law would provide expedited removal of those who do not have valid documents or who have tried to enter under fraudulent means or misrepresentation. However, it does have provisions for migrants who wish to apply for asylum because of threats and fear of torture or persecution – they will be interviewed to determine credibility. The current law states an alien has to prove a credible threat is “a significant possibility” to apply for asylum. The proposed change would alter it to “a reasonable possibility.”
The proposal is not yet writ in stone, and the public has until July 15 to submit comments.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.