Nearly a year after the Texas Public Policy Foundation issued its report “Towards a 21st Century Asylum System” and formed a Border Security Coalition calling for “decisive U.S. Executive and Legislative action to update the asylum system and reduce the massive backlog of cases faced by overwhelmed immigration courts”, the organization’s leadership welcomed the Trump administration’s announcement of a sweeping series of amendments to U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations that govern the badly abused and misused system.

“The widespread abuse of the U.S. asylum system was what drove our nation’s southwestern border security practically to the breaking point last year,” said Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) Vice President for Federal Affairs John Hostettler. “Changes to our asylum system that reduce the huge gap between the number of people with spurious asylum claims and valid asylum claims are long overdue, and the rule Justice and DHS are proposing goes a long way to achieving exactly that,” said Hostettler, who previously, during his six terms in Congress, chaired the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims.

For example, Hostettler indicated, the proposed new rule clarifies and tightens asylum system definitions of persecution, political opinion and what constitutes membership in a “particular social group” that are among the grounds that establish eligibility for asylum. The proposed rule also takes aim at the fraud, fabrication as well as bureaucratic quagmire that have increasingly plagued the system, and which have led over the years to mounting numbers of unmerited asylum claims. “This chaotic situation has reached the point to where the Justice Department is reporting that over half of the docket in the immigration courts is now asylum claims, and as of April of this year the number of asylum cases totaled over half a million,” noted Hostettler.

In sum, Hostettler said TPPF considers the administration’s proposed changes a welcome step in the right direction toward “improving the integrity and the efficiency of the U.S. asylum system.” He emphasized that he and many of his organization’s allies on the TPPF-spearheaded Border Security Coalition of some 20 national conservative leaders and organizations are broadly supportive of these and other changes considered necessary for securing the country’s border, including a still pending congressional amendment to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 that would treat all unaccompanied minors equally, eliminating the current distinction that is made between those from contiguous countries and noncontiguous countries.