Hurd leads effort to reform outdated asylum laws

WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Representative Will Hurd (TX-23) released a proposal to reform U.S. asylum laws and address the humanitarian crisis at the Southern border that is straining the resources of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies and overwhelming local communities. The Asylum Reform Act of 2019 would overhaul antiquated laws ill-equipped for addressing the current crisis. These needed reforms would halt the widespread abuse of our current system, streamline our existing processing of these individuals and, most importantly, ensure that our asylum system works for the people who need it most – those fleeing legitimate persecution in their home country.

“This proposal would fix our broken asylum system that encourages illegal immigration, diverts resources from those with legitimate claims and, in many cases, actually rewards the kingpin human smugglers who thrive on its perpetuation,” said Hurd, who represents 820 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, more than any other member of Congress. “Our asylum system, created in the 1980’s, never could have anticipated such a large number of migrants seeking asylum. That’s why reforming our asylum laws is an essential step to address the unprecedented crisis at our border. There is still more to be done, and I remain committed to soliciting feedback and doing whatever it takes to solve this problem so we can actually help our communities. Good policy is good politics – not the other way around.”

The Asylum Reform Act of 2019 would make several important changes to U.S. asylum laws, including:

Limiting eligibility for asylum to migrants who enter the U.S. at a port of entry, which would discourage illegal entry into the country and ensure Customs and Border Protection can process migrants in a controlled and orderly manner.

Prohibiting migrants who are arriving from a contiguous country (i.e., Canada or Mexico) from seeking asylum unless they have already been denied asylum or a similar protection in that country, ensuring that migrants are seeking protection from our neighbors before entering our asylum process. This prohibition would not apply if migrants are seeking asylum because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution in Mexico or Canada.

Codifying the administration’s credible fear standard used to screen migrants seeking asylum to ensure agents on the ground are evaluating the credibility of their statements when making their determination. Currently, 80% of migrants from the Northern Triangle pass their credible fear screening, but only 20% ultimately receive asylum. This change will help ensure that future administrations must take into account the credibility of the applicants.

Removing existing obstacles that prevent DHS from removing asylum seekers to a safe third country.

Deterring frivolous asylum claims by closing loopholes and defining what is considered a frivolous asylum filing.

Extending the statute of limitations for fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents that may be used in asylum matters from 5 years after the date that the offense occurred, to 10 years. Given the current backlog of asylum claims, we are rarely able to prosecute these types of offenses.

The Asylum Reform Act of 2019 is the latest effort by Rep. Hurd to help address the problem at the border. Since being elected to Congress, Hurd has supported over $220 billion to improve technology at the border, championed legislation to help border patrol with retention, and repeatedly called for a special representative to be appointed to the Northern Triangle to help with root causes.