This week, Congressman David Rouzer (NC-07) announced introduction of H.R. 8943, the Asylum Accountability Act in the United States House of Representatives. The Asylum Accountability Act would improve the integrity of our asylum system by significantly sharpening the penalty for those who fail to appear at their immigration court hearing.
Companion legislation is led by U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) in the U.S. Senate.
"The Biden-Harris Administration has continued to neglect our southern border," said Rep. Rouzer. "Criminals, cartels, and human smugglers have turned this lawlessness into a business boom raking in billions, and the asylum process has been turned into a get-out-of-jail free card for illegal immigrants. The Asylum Accountability Act will help strengthen our immigration system by permanently barring legal status for work, permanent residence status, or citizenship for anyone who does not show up in court for their asylum hearing. This is a crucial component of current law that needs to be changed to help deter the surge we are currently seeing at our southern border."
"Illegal immigrants are abusing current asylum law, living in the country for years before having to appear in immigration court, and then failing to show up," said Senator Tillis. "The Biden Administration's failed policies have caused the unprecedented crisis at the southern border, and it's only getting worse. This legislation cracks down on any illegal immigrant who tries to skirt the law and implements a commonsense bar on obtaining benefits for anyone who fails to show up for their court hearing. This policy is long overdue and it is time we regain control of our border."
In the House, co-sponsors include: Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Pete Stauber (MN-08), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), and Greg Murphy (NC-03).
The asylum backlog currently stands at 667,229, and the average wait time for an asylum case is currently four and a half years. Due to this backlog, the current surge of crossings at our southern border is being driven by those intent on abusing our asylum system. Cartels and smugglers have capitalized on the belief by illegal immigrants that they will be able to apply for asylum, abscond from their court hearings, and live in the United States while their case is pending, regardless of the merits of their claim.
Under current law, an illegal immigrant who fails to appear for their immigration court hearing will be deportable and banned from immigration benefits for 10 years. According to a recent Government Accountability Office study, 9 percent of all illegal immigrants enrolled in Alternatives to Detention ultimately absconded.
The Asylum Accountability Act amends the penalty for absconding from an immigration court hearing to a permanent ban of benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act.