The federal government is buckling under a surge of asylum cases, a dilemma that could only get worse as the United States allows more refugees into the country, the U.S. immigration agency’s own watchdog said Wednesday.
The backlog at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has ballooned by 1400 percent since 2011, with more than 128,000 asylum cases still pending at the end of 2015, the agency’s ombudsman Maria M. Odom, said in her annual report to Congress. And the flow isn’t letting up: New applications have more than doubled in five years, to 83,197, the report said.
As it struggles to keep up, CIS has been forced to reassign asylum officers to its Refugee Affairs Division to handle a larger influx of people fleeing violence and persecution around the world.