Thousands of asylum seekers have been released pending the disposition of their applications, Fox News reported
During fiscal 2012, no more than 2,508 of some 24,000 individuals who arrived unlawfully in the U.S. were detained. Some 22,000 were released, several thousand were deported, and a small number were granted asylum, Fox said, citing an Immigration and Customs Enforcement document.
Those let go were conditionally released on bond or some other form of supervision. The system has lost track of some of these and several hundred are known to have escaped, Fox reported. Most of the cases are concentrated in southern border area including Phoenix and San Antonio.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration said it was easing rules that would automatically keep asylum-seekers with "limited" ties to terrorists out of the country on the grounds that the restriction is too broad.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said that the laws were intended to give immigration authorities time to vet asylum applications. Only those facing genuine persecution in their home countries are eligible for asylum consideration.
Following a Tuesday hearing of the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee on asylum fraud, Goodlatte and several other members requested the Government Accountability Office investigate the cost
of asylum fraud to American taxpayers.
Goodlatte said U.S. immigration laws were being too loosely enforced or ignored by the Obama administration, contributing to gaming of the system, according to Fox.
A 2009 Immigration and Customs Enforcement document
loosened regulations for anyone who claimed a credible fear" of persecution in their home countries.
The law makes it possible to release certain individuals on a case-by-case basis, said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies with the Center for Immigration Studies. She said the administration was abusing its discretionary authority which was intended to be used rarely. As a result, many aliens do not return for hearings raising concerns they will not be properly vetted, she said.
Republican lawmakers have pointed to data pertaining to aliens seeking asylum in 2005 that found that up to 70 percent may have made fraudulent claims. Those granted asylum become immediately eligible for federal welfare programs.
Goodlatte saw "an overwhelming amount of fraud" in the system and warned that a "free pass" was being given to aliens who needed to be kept under tighter supervision.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said it was a "gross mischaracterization" to claim that fraud was rampant in the asylum system.
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