On Sunday’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, CNN host Fareed Zakaria opened his show with a commentary in which he admitted something that others on his news network typically will not — asylum laws are increasingly being taken advantage of by non-citizens who just want to bypass the normal immigration system who should not qualify for asylum.
By contrast, others on the network have pushed the view that, because so many asylum seekers from Central America go through treacherous conditions to get into the U.S., they almost automatically must by qualified since they must be fleeing something serious.
Zakaria took a swipe at President Donald Trump as he began his “Fareed’s Take” segment:
Given President Trump’s mean-spirited and often bigoted attitudes on immigration, it pains me to say this, but he is right that the United States faces a crisis with its asylum system. Democrats might hope that the out-of-control situation at the Southern border undermines Trump’s image among his base as a tough guy who can tackle immigration, but they should be careful. It could actually work to the President’s advantage.
The CNN host then recalled that the number of asylum cases presented to the courts has “skyrocketed” by 240 percent since 2014 when so many Central Americans began leaving their home countries and coming to the U.S., reaching 162,000 a year.
After recounting that these large numbers are slowing down the process and creating a tremendous backlog, he added: “It’s also clear that the rules surrounding asylum are vague, lax, and being gamed.” He soon recalled that “some applicants have suspiciously similar stories using identical phrases. Many simply use the system to enter the U.S. and then melt into the shadows or gain a work permit while their application is pending.”
He then cautioned: “Asylum is meant to be granted to a very small number of people in extreme circumstances, not as a substitute for the process of immigration itself. Yet the two have gotten mixed up.”
Zakaria recalled that the right to asylum was first written into law in the early years of the Cold War, after many Jews were prevented from leaving Europe as they fled the Holocaust, adding that it was meant for refugees “fleeing regimes where they would be killed or imprisoned because of their identity or beliefs,” and then noted that the standards have evolved over the years to include those endangered by gangs and domestic violence, and lamented that such changes have “made the asylum system easy to abuse.”
He then noted that Central Americans have increasingly sought asylum in the U.S. in spite of murder rates falling in their countries, and noted that many around the world could qualify for asylum under such lax rules.
Nearing the conclusion of his commentary, Zakaria worried that Democrats are mishandlng the situation by not supporting reforms to the process, and that their reaction might benefit President Trump politically:
That does not address the roots of this genuine crisis. If things continue to spiral downward and America’s Southern border seems out of control, Trump’s tough rhetoric and hardline stands will become increasingly attractrive to the public. Keep in mind that the rise of populism in the Western world is almost everywhere tied to fears of growing out of control immigration.