CNN’s Zakaria Agrees With Trump on Immigrant Asylum System Crisis

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria laments that President Donald Trump was correct that there is a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. From his Sunday program, ‘Fareed Zakaria GPS’:

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN: Given President Trump’s mean spirited and often bigoted attitudes on immigration, it pains me to say this, but he is right, that the United States faces a crisis with its asylum system. Democrats might hope that the out-of-control situation at the southern border undermines Trump’s image among his base as a tough guy who can tackle immigration. But they should be careful. It could actually work to the president’s advantage.

Since 2014, the flow of asylum seekers into the United States has skyrocketed. Last year, immigration courts received 162,000 asylum claims. A 240 percent increase from 2014. The result is a staggering backlog with more than 300,000 asylum cases pending and the average immigration case has been pending for more than 700 days. It’s also clear that the rules surrounding asylum are vague, lax and being gamed. 

The initial step for many asylum seekers is to convince officers that they have a credible fear of persecution in their home countries. And about 75 percent meet that criteria. Some applicants for asylum have suspiciously similar stories using identical phrases. Many simply use the system to enter the U.S. and then melt into the shadows or gain a work permit while their application is pending. 

Asylum is meant to be granted to a very small number of people in extreme circumstances. Not as a substitute for the process of immigration itself. Yet, the two have gotten mixed up. As the Atlantic’s David Frum has pointed out, the idea of a right to asylum is a relatively recent one dating to the early years of the Cold War. Guilt ridden over the rejection of many Jewish refugees during World War II the U.N. created a right of asylum to protect those who are fleeing regimes where they would be killed our imprisoned because of their identity or beliefs. This standard has gotten broader and broader over the years. 

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