The Biden administration has quietly dismissed over 350,000 asylum applications from immigrants since 2022, according to a report by Syracuse University's

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). This move comes as the White House prepares to implement stricter border security measures that would cap asylum requests and automatically deny entry to migrants once a certain threshold is reached.

TRAC's report reveals that these dismissals are part of a broader effort to manage the surge in asylum cases and reduce the overwhelming backlog in the immigration system. Since 2022, cases were closed based on the absence of a criminal record or threat to national security, allowing migrants to remain in the U.S. without further legal obligations. This effectively grants them a form of amnesty, permitting them to move freely within the country without fear of deportation.

New Border Security Plans

The administration's proposed border clampdown aims to limit the number of daily encounters to an average of 4,000 over a week. This includes plans to shut off asylum requests once the threshold is met. A memo from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) principal legal advisor Kerry Doyle in 2022 instructed agency prosecutors to dismiss cases involving non-threatening migrants.

Asylum Application Statistics

In 2022, 173,227 asylum applications were filed. Of these, 36,250 applicants were ordered removed, 31,859 were granted asylum, and 102,550 were dismissed. In 2023, 248,232 applications were filed, with 52,440 removals, 43,113 grants, and 149,305 dismissals. So far in 2024, 175,193 applications have been filed, with 113,843 dismissals.

These numbers are significantly higher than during the Trump administration. For example, in 2019, there were 87,018 asylum applications, with 52,223 removals, 24,109 grants, and 4,746 dismissals.

Implications for Migrants

When asylum cases are dismissed, migrants are no longer subject to deportation or removal proceedings and are not monitored by ICE. They can reapply for asylum or seek other forms of legal status, such as family-based or employment-based visas, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Growing Immigration Court Backlog

The immigration court backlog has grown from 2.8 million at the end of Fiscal Year 2023 to nearly 3.6 million in FY 2024. The current flow of new cases exceeds the pace of case completions, contributing to the backlog.

Biden's Border Security Efforts

President Biden is considering additional executive actions to manage immigration, following the collapse of a bipartisan border bill earlier this year. Despite a decline in illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration remains a key issue leading up to the November presidential election. Republicans continue to criticize Biden's handling of the border crisis.

The administration's potential policies include capping daily encounters and expediting asylum processing, particularly for migrants with criminal records or those ineligible for asylum. These measures are part of an aggressive attempt to ease the strain on the nation's asylum system and demonstrate Biden's commitment to controlling border numbers without congressional support.

The Biden administration's dismissal of over 350,000 asylum applications highlights the ongoing challenges in managing the U.S. immigration system. As new border security measures are considered, the administration aims to balance the need for strict enforcement with humanitarian considerations for migrants seeking asylum in the United States. Photo by Amyyfory, Wikimedia commons.