Lawmakers Say Relaxed Asylum Laws Contributing to Border Crisis
Updated: Wednesday, July 30 2014, 02:09 PM EDT
Some lawmakers say a big factor in the current border crisis is that our nation's asylum laws are too relaxed.
Five-months ago, the Obama administration made it easier for people with loose ties to terrorist organizations to seek asylum. Now Congress is reporting that two-thirds of unaccompanied children who requested asylum this year were granted it.
Along the border, tents are set up as shelters for children coming over to stay until they meet family or receive a court date.
The federal government views this situation as temporary but most immigrants were led to believe otherwise.
16-year-old Edward has learned that just because he survived the long, hot and dangerous journey across the border does not mean he can stay.
Edward has told his immigration attorney that he left Honduras to escape violence. The group he traveled with crossed the river from Mexico into the United States.
Unlike many traveling over the border, he says his group was looking for Border Patrol Agents.
"There is this misconception that he has had and I guess thousands of others have had that you can come here and you can get a permit. You don't get a permit," says Joe DeMott, his immigration attorney.
But at shelters, volunteers say thousands of immigrants crossing the border believe they can get work permits to stay here.
"They've been detained and given permission to continue in their journey, but with a court date," explained Brenda Riojas with Catholic Charities.
Immigrants can ask a judge to grant them asylum but the law sets that bar high. You have to show a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a political group.
Poverty in a home country is not an excuse and neither is violence, which are the usualreasons given by immigrants for leaving their homes.
Edward has found relatives living in San Antonio who will help him fight deportation. When asked why he wants to live here, he answered because this is the land of opportunity and he wants his piece of the "American Dream."
Immigration courts are currently backlogged. There are several proposals to hire more judges but only lawmakers can appropriate money and recess will begin in August.