As of April 2021, the number of pending asylum application reached a record high, nearly 400,000, representing a total of more than 600,000 asylum applicants who are awaiting a decision on their fate. 94% have not yet received an interview, while the remaining 6% have been interviewed but are waiting at a final decision.
This from a letter signed by Congressmen
In FY 2021 there may be 60,000 asylum awards. That means the backlog is equivalent to over six years.
The backlog surged upwards in the Obama administration. 20% of asylum officer positions are unfilled. Many asylum applicants have been waiting for five years. The Trump administration tried to make it more difficult for asylum seekers, for instance by barring them from working legally in the U.S, for one year (it was, and is now, six months). (Go here.)
Note: the backlog problem is similar to the border control problems on the Mexican border and the Special Immigrant Visas for Afghan translators: the growth of an elephantine mass of legal processes which top executives in the State Department and DHS don’t really care much about compared to other priorities.