May 9, 2018

U.S. faces surge of asylum claims under Trump

Since the start of the Trump administration, immigration courts have faced an unprecedented wave of asylum applications from immigrants already caught up in deportation proceedings, according to new Justice Department data first given to Axios.

Expand chart
Data: Executive Office for Immigration Review; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Why it matters: This surge has contributed to the record backlog in immigration courts, which in turn, creates long wait times for immigrants. It also slows down deportations and immigration law enforcement, Gary Mead, former Executive Associate Director for ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operation, told Axios.

The big picture: It's not just asylum applications. The overall number of new immigration cases was higher in 2017 than any year during the Obama administration. Still, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) managed to get through the most cases since 2012 last year — and is on pace to complete around 15,000 more this year.

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions has introduced several policies to speed up immigration decisions, but cases and applications keep rolling in.

Between the lines: Increased immigration enforcement — such as the record number of ICE arrests — and growing public awareness of the asylum process have likely contributed to the trend, according to a DOJ official and two former Department of Homeland Security officials.

By the numbers

The big stat: EOIR received 119,144 defensive asylum applications last year — meaning they occurred while immigrants were already in deportation proceedings — compared to 68,530 in 2016.

  • There were only 30,179 asylum decisions in federal courts in 2017, according to data collected by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
  • Last year, EOIR granted the highest number of asylum applications since Obama took office at 6,988, but — because of the jump in applications — the percentage of successful applications was the lowest in at least eight years.
  • Almost 5,000 asylum seekers were ordered to be removed because they did not show up to their court date — another record since at least 2007.

The state of play: Last year, immigrants claiming asylum in both defensive and affirmative — they turned themselves in — situations received the highest denial rate since at least 2007 at 35%.

  • The 2018 denial rate as of the end of March was 41%.
  • Yes, but: The DOJ has not yet released denial numbers or rates for specifically defensive asylum claims.

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Countries where novel coronavirus cases are falling may be hit with a "second peak" if they relax restrictions too soon, World Health Organization emergencies chief Mike Ryan warned during a briefing Monday. "We're still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up," he added.

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.6 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,900 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,498,849 — Total deaths: 346,306 — Total recoveries — 2,233,180Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,662,768 — Total deaths: 98,223 — Total recoveries: 379,157 — Total tested: 14,604,942Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

LATAM Airlines files for U.S. chapter 11 bankruptcy

A LATAM air attendant aboard one of the company's planes in March. Photo: Kike Calvo/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

LATAM Airlines Group SA said in a statement early Tuesday the firm and its affiliates in in the United States, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S.

Why it matters: Latam is Latin America's largest airline and its shareholders include Delta Air Lines. CEO Roberto Alvo noted in the statement the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the airline industry.