“An alien who is transferred from expedited removal proceedings to full removal proceedings after establishing a credible fear of persecution or torture is ineligible for release on bond. Such an alien must be detained until his removal proceedings conclude, unless he is granted parole.”
That is an order from Attorney General William Barr to immigration judges that will block those making asylum claims from being released on bond while their proceedings are ongoing.
According to Justice Department data through 2016, up to 43 percent of asylum seekers depending on the year never make their court appearances after they are released, with tens of thousands simply disappearing into the woodwork every year. In 2016 alone, 34,193 cases were completed in abstentia and ordered to be deported because the alien had not shown up in court.
Overall, the White House has noted that only about 10 percent of those whose credible fear claims are initially granted are actually given asylum.
It is therefore prudent, given the high rate of those not even bothering to show up to court, for federal authorities to detain asylum seekers until their proceedings are concluded, especially given the 90 percent likelihood they will be deported even if credible fear is initially established.
For authority, Barr cited 8 U.S.C. Section 1225(b)(1)(B)(ii): “If the officer determines at the time of the interview that an alien has a credible fear of persecution … the alien shall be detained for further consideration of the application for asylum.”
Previously, as noted by Barr, the Board of Immigration Appeals had “held that only some aliens transferred after establishing a credible fear are subject to mandatory detention,” concluding that “‘arriving’ aliens—such as those ‘attempting to come into the United States at a port-of-entry,’ … must be detained, but all other transferred aliens are eligible for bond.”
Barr said that matter “was wrongly decided.”
The Barr order concluded, “The question presented is whether aliens who are originally placed in expedited proceedings and then transferred to full proceedings after establishing a credible fear become eligible for bond upon transfer. I conclude that such aliens remain ineligible for bond, whether they are arriving at the border or are apprehended in the United States. The text of the Act mandates that conclusion.”
If nothing else, Barr is showing that he as Attorney General will be implementing the law as written, which is a good thing. What is remarkable is that the Board of Immigration Appeals ever thought that those initially granted credible fear were ever eligible to be released on bond in the first place when nothing in the statute says so.
In the very least, Barr ending catch-and-release of asylum seekers will end one of the major current incentives driving illegal immigrants to come to the U.S. in an attempt to cheat our system by making erroneous asylum claims. Hopefully, it will result in fewer migrants making the dangerous trip in the first place.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.