Just send more money to Central American countries. That was the extent of the solution for the migrants storming America’s southern border offered by 2020 Democrat presidential hopeful Senator Cory Booker Sunday during an interview with CBS’s Margaret Brennan. Booker described Trump’s border security measures as a “human rights violation”.
During Booker’s appearance on Face the Nation, Margaret Brennan pushed him on what exactly he would do with the problems faced at the southern border when he tried to go off on President Trump instead of offering his own solution. He blamed Trump for the humanitarian crisis on the border.
Well, I’ll tell you what Cory Booker does- the exact opposite of what he’s doing. You have a president that is not supporting those places where it’s sourcing the immigration in the first place. We do lots of foreign aid from Africa to- to- to th- the- the Middle East. We should be making sure that those countries that are going through crises that are causing all this immigration that we’re doing more to intervene, to support human rights and basic dignity in those countries. That’s a lower cost way to do- to deal with it than to have the horrors of these families with small children trying to make thousands of miles journey to come through our borders. And at our border, we need to make sure that we have an asylum system that actually works as Republicans and Democrats designed that asylum system to work.
The problem with his train of thought, though, is that he claims the asylum system is the culprit in the situation at the border. The fact is that the asylum system is being cynically abused by those coming to the border in caravans from Central American countries. By the thousands, people are being coached by open borders groups to just claim political asylum and that will be their ticket to entering the U.S. Some are legitimate requests but in 2018, almost 90% of requests for asylum were denied.
The rise in asylum request denials didn’t start with President Trump’s administration. 2018 was the sixth year that saw a rise in denials. Booker’s blame of the asylum system fails to take into account that complete numbers are difficult to garner. Denial of asylum doesn’t mean automatic deportation. Often an applicant can remain here because he or she qualifies for another form of relief.
Immigration judges’ decisions on asylum applications are not necessarily the same as the outcome of each case. A denial of asylum does not automatically result in a deportation order. The individual could have qualified for some other form of relief, or was otherwise found by the immigration judge to not be deportable and was accordingly allowed to remain in the country.
Currently the government does not publish or provide public access to data that would allow complete tracking of the final outcome from all asylum cases. This occurs in part because multiple agencies are involved, often with separate tracking systems. Only a partial portrait is therefore available from Immigration Court data.
The situation is particularly confusing for unaccompanied children from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and other countries that do not directly border this country. While the Immigration Court generally has jurisdiction over their cases, their actual applications for asylum are typically submitted directly to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If asylum officers at USCIS determine they are entitled to asylum, the Immigration Court will use the USCIS decision as a basis for closing the child’s case. However, the decision to allow them to remain in the country will not be recorded as a grant of asylum in the court’s records. This is because court records only separately track asylum decisions made by immigration judges.
Political asylum does not include those coming to seek employment. Most migrants joining caravans and coming from Central America are looking for jobs. While gang violence and poverty are legitimate reasons to search for a better place to live, it is not the basis of an asylum claim. Our immigration system accommodates those folks with a legal process different than the asylum process. The Trump administration, led by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, tightened up the asylum process, limiting the grounds on which asylum can be granted by a judge. In particular, Central American women and children fleeing domestic violence and gang violence no longer qualify for asylum. The number of denials rose with the number of migrants coming to the border.
Senator Booker will have to do better. Simply pointing a finger at President Trump and putting the blame on him is not a substitute for articulating his own policies and solutions. In this case, the problem was already underway before President Trump even entered the office.