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Press Release

Acting Attorney General Whitaker Statement On Presidential Proclamation

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

After President Trump’s Presidential Proclamation regarding the Southwest Border, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker issued the following statement of strong support:

"Our southern border is in crisis. The hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who have unlawfully crossed our border are posing a significant threat to the government’s ability to effectively enforce our nation’s immigration laws. Plain and simple, there are too many loopholes in our current immigration system. The vast majority of asylum claims that originated from this system are not meritorious. What’s worse, large numbers of aliens fail to even pursue their claims in court and many fail to appear for their court hearings.

“Today, the President has made a strong statement that enough is enough. Aliens with legitimate claims to asylum can still receive it—they simply have to go to one of our ports of entry. Thanks to this decisive order from President Trump, we are continuing to provide a path to protection for those who truly need it, while stopping our generosity from being abused."

The total number of aliens referred to expedited removal proceedings has significantly increased over the last decade, from 161,516 aliens in 2008 to approximately 234,534 in FY 2018.  The total number of credible-fear referrals for interviews increased from about 5,000 a year in Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 to about 97,000 in FY 2018.

The vast majority of asylum applications are not meritorious.  In FY 2018, a total of about 6,000 aliens who passed through credible-fear screening (17 percent of all completed cases, 27 percent of all completed cases in which an asylum application was filed, and about 36 percent of cases where the asylum claim was adjudicated on the merits) established that they should be granted asylum. 

More than approximately 70,000 aliens a year (as of FY 2018) are estimated to enter between the ports of entry and then assert a credible fear in expedited removal proceedings.  Another 24,000 assert fear to return at our ports of entry.

As of November 2, 2018, there were approximately 203,569 total cases pending in the immigration courts that originated with a credible-fear referral—or 26 percent of the total backlog of 791,821 removal cases.

Of that number, 136,554 involved nationals of Northern Triangle countries.  89 percent of aliens from the Northern Triangle receive a positive credible-fear interview.

But in nearly half of the completed cases involving these aliens, the alien failed to appear at a hearing or failed to file an asylum application.

  • 71 percent were of claims completed with the issuance of an order of removal.
  • 31 percent were of claims completed where the alien failed to appear at a hearing.
  • 40 percent were of claims completed without the alien filing an application for asylum
  • Only nine percent were ultimately granted asylum.
Updated November 9, 2018

Press Release Number: 18 - 1484