Is Fraud in the “Credible Fear” Process a Threat to the Asylum System? – Lawyer Monthly | Legal News Magazine

Is Fraud in the “Credible Fear” Process a Threat to the Asylum System?

A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies analyzes the fraudulent abuse of the “credible fear” process by aliens seeking to enter or remain in the United States, fraud made possible by weaknesses in the US asylum system, resource constraints, and evidentiary limitations. Already more susceptible to exploitation by terrorists than the refugee process because applicants are not screened before entering the United States, the credible fear process is particularly vulnerable to fraud, hindering the effectiveness of expedited removal and undermining the immigration enforcement system.

Expedited removal is intended to facilitate the removal of aliens who entered illegally or through fraud, and who are apprehended at entry or who have been in the United States for a limited period of time.

But according to the report‘s author, Andrew Arthur, a former Immigration Judge and the Center’s Resident Fellow in Law and Policy: “Many have been instructed to claim ‘credible fear’ of returning to their home countries. With their oral testimony often offered as the only evidence to support their claims, and with few Asylum Officers, only 35 Fraud Detection and National Security officers assigned to asylum offices throughout the country, and a mere 316 Immigration Judges already overwhelmed by a backlog of 542,411 cases, it should be no surprise that the credible fear process is uniquely susceptible to fraud.”

Among the findings:

  • The number of asylum applications that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received has increased significantly in recent years, from 56,912 in FY 2014, to 84,236 in FY 2015, to 115,888 in FY 2016.
  • In addition to the increase in asylum applications, the number of credible fear cases handled by USCIS increased more than eightfold between FY 2009 and FY 2015.
  • The evidentiary burdens for aliens seeking asylum and withholding of removal are lower than for aliens seeking other immigration benefits. In fact, “[t]he testimony of [an] applicant [for asylum and withholding of removal] may be sufficient to sustain the applicant’s burden without corroboration.”
  • Although there have been a significant number of high-profile cases involving multiple cases of asylum fraud in recent years, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not completed an assessment of the extent of fraud in the asylum context.
  • Aliens with ties to terrorist organizations have attempted to enter illegally and claim asylum fraudulently. Hundreds of aliens to whom the terrorist bar to asylum may apply have been found to have a credible fear.

(Source: Center for Immigration Studies)

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