SANDIEGO — One policy of the Trump administration has made it nearly impossible for migrants to receive asylum.
Data show that, as of September, of the more than 47,000 people in the Migrant Protection Protocols program, commonly known as Remain in Mexico, fewer than 10,000 had completed their asylum cases. Of that group, 5,085 cases were denied while 4,471 cases were dismissed without a decision being made — mostly on procedural grounds.
Only 11 cases — or 0.1% of all completed cases — resulted in asylum being granted, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
That 0.1% grant rate is significantly lower than the 20% who were granted asylum outside the Remain in Mexico process, according to data from the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
Over the last year, in the name of national security, the Trump administration had made three major changes to U.S. asylum policy.
The first was the expansion of the metering program. Metering forces migrants at the border to wait months in Mexico before getting a chance to turn themselves in to Customs and Border Protection agents.
Officials at the Department of Homeland Security defend the practice, saying there is a limited amount of space in holding facilities where they process migrants who enter the country without proper documentation. To prevent overcrowding, they need to manage the number of people who enter each day.
There are more than 10,000 migrants now in Tijuana waiting to enter the United States and legally ask for asylum. Many have been there for months. On some days, none of them are allowed to enter the country. Instead of waiting, some people either cross illegally into the U.S. or turn around and go back home.
The Remain in Mexico program was the second big change to U.S. asylum policy. It requires asylum seekers with immigration court cases in the U.S. to wait in Mexico until their cases are decided.
The logic behind Remain in Mexico is that forcing people to spend months in Mexico waiting for their cases will deter them from filing false asylum claims. Immigration advocates argue that the program also deters migrants from submitting legitimate claims.
The third major change in asylum policy, enacted in July, makes non-Mexican asylum seekers at the southern U.S. border ineligible for asylum unless they've already requested asylum in another country — such as Mexico. The latest change has effectively made the majority of non-Mexican migrants ineligible for asylum, lawyers and activists say.
"There's metering, there's Remain in Mexico, there's the new asylum ban. Basically, the process is blocking people from getting asylum," said Kennji Kizuka, senior researcher and policy analyst for Human Rights First.