Jul 29 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Mike Rounds (R-SD) introduced legislation that would improve the integrity of our asylum system by deterring illegal immigrants who would attempt to abuse our asylum system. The Asylum Integrity Act would replace the current regulatory definition of “frivolous” with a statutory definition that finds frivolousness where an application has been knowingly filed by the asylum applicant and either: 

(1) Includes a fabricated material; 

(2) Is premised on false or fabricated evidence; 

(3) Was filed without regard to the merits of the claim; OR 

(4) Is clearly foreclosed by applicable law. 

In 2021, the Trump Administration issued regulations to refine this definition in order to prevent asylum abuse. Rather than just a knowingly false claim, this regulation would allow for a finding of a frivolous claim where the applicant was willfully blind to a frivolous claim. The penalty for filing a frivolous asylum claim is a permanent bar from receiving any immigration benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act. 

“As the crisis at our southern border grows, the asylum backlog grows, and illegal immigrants find more ways to abuse our asylum system,” said Senator Tillis. “Many asylum seekers don’t have legitimate claims and their cases are not seen for four or five years, resulting in many illegal immigrants, including cartel members, staying in our country under fraudulent applications. I am proud to continue my work to close any loopholes in our immigration system and regain control of our borders.” 

“With the massive influx of illegal immigrants flooding our southern border, asylum cases have skyrocketed and are overwhelming our immigration system,” said Senator Cramer. “While they make faulty claims and take advantage of our broken asylum system, they live without citizenship in the United States. The Asylum Integrity Act gives a clear and concise definition of who qualifies for asylum and bars immigration benefits for frivolous and disingenuous asylum claims.”

“Someone who abuses our immigration system by making a frivolous asylum claim should not be able to subsequently claim benefits from that same system,” said Senator Hagerty. “That’s why I’m joining this commonsense effort to prevent abuse of our laws.” 


Between the end of FY12 and the end of FY21, the asylum backlog grew by nearly 530% - from 105,919 to 667,229. The average wait time for an asylum case is currently 4 ½ years. For those intent on abusing our asylum system, this wait gives them the opportunity to reside in the United States while their case is pending, regardless of the merits of their claim. Our asylum system was not meant to function this way. Instead, the cartels and smugglers have sold illegal immigrants a bill of goods, promising that as long as they claim asylum, they will be able to stay in the United States. This is wrong not only for the rule of law, but also for those with meritorious asylum claims.  

In FY2021, only 16% of asylum cases were successful before an immigration court. Despite this, illegal immigrants continue to surge towards the southern border to make asylum claims in the hopes of being released into the interior and receiving work authorization while waiting for their case to be heard. This will only stop if Congress takes action to prevent asylum abuse.  

Under existing regulation, a frivolous asylum claim is found where an illegal immigrant has (1) received notice; (2) the frivolous claim must have been made knowingly; (3) there must be sufficient evidence a material element was deliberately fabricated; and (4) there must be an opportunity for the illegal immigrant to account for any discrepancies.