Excellent summary of the crisis by the NY Times:
The immigration courts now have more than 800,000 pending cases; each one takes an average of 700 days to process. And because laws and court rulings aimed at protecting children prohibit jailing young people for more than 20 days, families are often simply released. They are dropped off at downtown bus stations.
At the current pace of nearly 100,000 migrants each month, officials say more than a million people will have tried to cross the border in a 12-month period. Some of those arriving today will have a strong legal case to stay under international refugee treaties and federal asylum laws, but most won’t have a formal asylum hearing until 2021.
The flow of migrant families has reached record levels, with February totals 560 percent above those for the same period last year. As many as 27,000 children are expected to cross the border and enter the immigration enforcement system in April alone.
Relating to the Status of Refugees, nations agreed to allow anyone to seek asylum, even if they entered a country illegally. The agreements defined a refugee as someone with a well-founded fear of persecution based on “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”
Determining whether an applicant receives asylum was left up to individual nations, but in the United States, the international obligations and the standards for asylum were largely incorporated into American immigration law beginning with the Refugee Act of 1980.
Only about 20 percent of asylum seekers ultimately win the right to live and work in the United States by proving that they would face persecution in their home countries.
Out of nearly 100,000 credible fear interviews during the year that ended in September of 2018, an asylum officer confirmed a credible fear 74,677 times — a nearly 75 percent approval rate. A senior Trump administration official vowed on Tuesday to dramatically reduce that rate by making the standards tougher.