90% of Border Crossers Aren’t Referred for Asylum Interviews

David Brier

David Brier

Society,

What does this mean? 

90% of Border Crossers Aren’t Referred for Asylum Interviews

The government is implementing a new proposal that would ban asylum for immigrants coming to the United States through Mexico. It pins the uptick in border crossers on the asylum process, but the government’s statistics reveal that 90 percent of crossers in 2019 were not referred for an asylum interview at the border, and the highest share ever referred was just 19 percent in 2018.

In fact, the rate of referral was just 7 percent in March 2019. This strongly indicates that the asylum ban will not have its intended effects. Figure 1 compares the rate at which undocumented immigrants at the southwest border were referred for asylum interviews at the border—called credible fear interviews—for each year from 2010 and 2019 as well as March 2019—the most recent month available. In no year has more than one in five immigrants stopped either at or between ports of entry entered the asylum process from the border.

The pattern is not significantly different for immigrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle—Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The highest percentage of credible fear claims was just 30 percent in 2016, and the rate for 2019 is 9 percent. March 2019 was actually just 6 percent. In other words, at the border at least, the asylum ban will have very little effect on most Central American crossers.

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