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Friday, October 25, 2013

Number of immigrants seeking asylum spikes -- By Brian Hughes, Washington Examiner

A surge in the number of illegal immigrants seeking asylum after crossing the U.S. border is likely to become a major area of contention as Washington gears up for another clash over immigration reform.

Critics of the immigration blueprint that stalled in the House are incensed by a jump in claims from people who cross the border illegally and who say they can’t return home because of safety concerns.

Department of Homeland Security figures show that more than 27,000 illegal immigrants made "credible fear" claims after crossing the border last fiscal year, compared with fewer than 11,000 the year before. The increase is coming primarily from Mexico and Central America, according to DHS data.

Immigration judges ultimately reject the overwhelming majority of asylum requests. However, those sounding the alarm point out that such illegal immigrants are often allowed to go free until a court hearing — sometimes months later — and drop off the grid altogether.

With the government shutdown behind him, President Obama has started yet another push for comprehensive immigration reform. Conservative lawmakers have shown little appetite to take up the polarizing legislation as the 2014 midterm elections approach.

The Obama administration has long argued that the U.S.-Mexican border has never been more secure, accusing Republicans of misleading the public about border security in an effort to stall legislation that has broad public support.

However, the growing number of asylum requests has alarmed GOP leaders who say that any path to citizenship for illegal immigrants must come after stiffer border security metrics are reached by the federal government.

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