Open Borders Undermine Asylum

By Jon Feere and Jon Feere on March 3, 2009

Open borders are rendering some asylum claims arguably pointless, particularly when it comes to claims based on fear of gangs.

An activist group has joined forces with a law firm in pressuring DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder to overturn a recent immigration court decision that denied an asylum claim by a number of young Salvadoran aliens. The youths claimed that they had fled their country in 2004 because of threats from the violent gang Mara Salvatrucha, aka MS-13. The relevant documents are available here.

In recommending the granting of asylum, the aliens' expert witness testified that El Salvador's police are not capable of controlling MS-13 and as a result the gang grows through forcible recruitment of youths who live within an MS-13 controlled zone.

But can the United States be considered a safe haven from such recruitment efforts? Due to lax border security, our own law enforcement is not doing a spectacular job of stopping the spread of MS-13. As the Center for Immigration Studies documented in a recent report on gangs and immigration law, "Taking Back the Streets," MS-13 recruitment efforts in the United States are at an all-time high as measured by the gang's growth and nationwide expansion. The Central American immigrant communities here in the United States are routinely threatened by MS-13 gang crime and young children are prime targets for violence and recruitment.

Even if the applicants were to be granted asylum, it's very likely they would face the same pressures and threats from the transnational MS-13 – just in a new neighborhood.

If we are interested in providing a worthwhile asylum to individuals like these youths, it's imperative that we prevent the entry of the very types they are trying to flee. A serious commitment to border security and the enforcement of all immigration laws – with a focus on state and local cooperation – is an absolute necessity. As we explained in our report, up to 90 percent of the membership of some MS-13 cliques is made up of illegal aliens.

The entire purpose of granting asylum is lost if we cannot control our own immigration system.

Topics: Asylum