STATEN ISLAND, NY – Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11) on October 13 joined Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella, New York State Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, City Councilman David Carr, and concerned members of the Staten Island community to outline federal solutions to address the flow of illegal immigration, speed up the asylum process, and stop the migrant crisis from worsening in New York and cities across America.
“As I’ve been saying since I visited the Southern Border last year, this is a manufactured crisis created by the Biden Administration,” Malliotakis said. “As a result of the policies put in place by President Biden, we are now facing a crisis of epic proportions where we’re seeing the largest number ever recorded of illegal crossings at our southern border. A very small number of the overall 4.5 million that have crossed over are legitimate asylum seekers. It’s incredibly important that we differentiate between individuals who qualify for asylum and those who don’t, and we do that by hiring more immigration judges and asylum officers at the border. By not having order at the border, by not having an adequate number of asylum officers and judges to hear these claims at points of entry, by not having the appropriate number of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, how can we possibly deal with the influx of four million individuals in less than two years?”
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), individuals may only qualify for asylum if they can prove they are being persecuted, or have a well-founded fear they will be persecuted in their home country due to their race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, or political opinion. Poverty, scarce economic opportunities, displacement caused by natural disasters, or a desire to reunite with family are not grounds for asylum under U.S. law.
The backlog in the immigration court system has increased to historic proportions, with 1.9 million pending cases. Overall, asylum grant rates in U.S. immigration courts have hovered around 20% since 2015, however, CBP sector chiefs have told Members of Congress that as many as 95% of migrants entering at our southern border do not have legitimate asylum claims.
Malliotakis has argued that in addition to securing the border, it is critical that more judges and asylum officers are added to differentiate between legitimate asylum claims and those inundating the system with false claims to avoid going through the legal process. While FY21 saw two million crossings, immigration judges approved only 7,370 asylum cases and denied 14,118, and USCIS granted asylum in 7,118 cases and denied 17,888.
“Make no mistake about it, this is a failure of our federal government not to continue the policies previously proposed by President Trump and not to have any type of order at our borders,” said State Assemblyman Michael Tannousis. “For the first time, our community is seeing the effects of that, now having hundreds of people that the city and state of New York do not have the proper resources to help. We are now facing an issue caused directly by our federal government, and I don’t see the federal government knocking on our door telling the City of New York ‘here you go, this is what you’re going to use to fix the situation.’ It’s a complete travesty. We understand these families need help, but we do not have the capability to support them in New York City right now. We implore the federal government to fix this, and fix it now.”
House Republicans have introduced the Border Security for America Act of 2021 which would restart barrier construction and provide CBP with critical resources, technology, and staffing. Malliotakis has also called on President Biden to add more immigration judges to quickly decide asylum cases, end catch and release, reinstate Remain in Mexico, and push migrants to apply for asylum in the first safe country they enter instead of traveling through several countries to get to the United States.
Malliotakis added: “The Governor, the Mayor, and all local elected officials should join us in our calls to stop this crisis at its root. It’s unsustainable to the taxpayer and unreasonable for our leaders to think an appropriate solution is to turn more hotels into shelters, more parks into tent cities, and add cruise ships to our ports. At what point do our leaders reach a breaking point and say enough is enough?”