Two of the first bills introduced by U.S. Representative Mike Johnson (LA-04) in the 116th Congress address glaring issues with our immigration laws.
The first, the Closing Asylum Loopholes Act, increases the “credible fear” standard to reduce fraud in the asylum process and preserve the programs for those truly in need.
The second, the Securing Our Borders and Wilderness Act,removes restrictions that prohibit border patrol agents from actually patrolling parts of the border.
“The United States will always seek to protect those fleeing legitimate persecution. At the same time, our first priority must always be the protection and security of our own borders. Unfortunately, as the evidence shows, lapses in our immigration laws have been abused by many, hampering the resources reserved for refugees and undermining the effectiveness of asylum and border security programs,” Johnson said in an emailed statement. “We must correct the longstanding loopholes that have encouraged illegal immigration and led to the crisis we face today. These bills are critical steps forward in those efforts.”
Closing Asylum Loopholes Act: The current threshold to establish “credible fear” is that the asylum applicant must be able to show a “significant possibility” of persecution if they return to their home country. One U.S. Supreme Court decision found that this threshold is satisfied if there is only a 10 percent chance of persecution. Johnson’s legislation, however, modifies the statute’s language to “more probable than not,” meaning a greater than 50 percent chance of persecution.
In Fiscal Year 2018, there were 99,035 total asylum applications. The Department of Homeland Security agents determined that, under the current standard, 74,6777 met the criteria. Of that number, only 16 percent of credible fear cases were actually approved later by immigration judges.
Securing Our borders and Wilderness Act: Under the Wilderness Act, border security officials may be barred from entering designated “wilderness” areas, leaving approximately 693 miles of our Southern border lacking law enforcement and therefore open for illegal immigrants and human and drug traffickers to cross into the United States. Johnson introduced this bill in the 115th, and it passed out of committee at the end of 2018.