WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) has joined Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) in introducing the Asylum Accountability Act, legislation that would significantly sharpen the penalty for those who fail to appear in immigration court by permanently barring absconding illegal immigrants from gaining a benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The surge of crossings at our southern border is driven by 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 consequence free. The Biden Administration has fueled this belief by failing to secure our border and by taking actions to limit interior enforcement. It is clear that the current 10-year penalty is not enough to deter absconders and ensure they comply with their court hearings.
“President Biden’s refusal to enforce our immigration laws and support for radical, far-left immigration policies has emboldened lawlessness from day one,” said Senator Hagerty. “I’m pleased to join my colleagues in proposing the commonsense rule that, if you don’t show up for your immigration hearings, you can’t later take advantage of the same immigration system. Record-breaking illegal immigration will not stop until the Biden Administration stops rewarding it.”
“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.”
Under current law, an illegal immigrant who fails to appear for their immigration court hearing will be deportable and banned from entering the United States for 10 years. Because of the Biden Administration’s failed catch and release policies, the current wait time for an asylum case to be completed is 4 ½ years. Illegal immigrants are taking advantage of our asylum system by making an asylum claim then running out the clock and never showing up for their immigration court hearing.
According to a recent Government Accountability Office study, 9 percent of all illegal immigrants enrolled in Alternatives to Detention ultimately absconded. There are over 667,000 asylum seekers in the backlog, meaning potentially tens of thousands of illegal immigrants will continue to break the law and disappear into our communities.