Border & Immigration
3:43 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

RAICES Says 63% Of Minors At Lackland Qualify For Asylum, Sen. Cornyn Skeptical

Lackland dorms where the unaccompanied minors from Central America are being housed.
Lackland dorms where the unaccompanied minors from Central America are being housed.
Credit U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

An internal review by the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) found 63% of the Central American children being housed at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio would qualify for some type of asylum relief.

San Antonio-based RAICES, who say they are the sole provider of legal services for the nearly 1,200 unaccompanied minors being housed at Lackland, looked at all the cases they have handled so far. But U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is hesitant to agree with the group's discovery.

“Those numbers are a little bit misleading because the legal grounds are very narrow," Cornyn said. "You have to basically make a credible claim of persecution. So just having violence in your home country is not grounds for asylum.”

Cornyn said about 2% of all asylum cases are granted. Cornyn is gathering support for his bill, the HUMANE Act, which he said closes a 2008 loophole by providing these children the same rights as immigrants from Mexico or Canada. This will give them the option to voluntarily go home or to go before an immigration judge and plead their case.

“What our bill does is it insures that people who have legitimate claims under current law can present those to an immigration judge on a timely basis," Cornyn said. "That’s not something that’s happening now.”

Cornyn said what’s happening is these children are being released to relatives in the US and given a notice to appear, which he said is leading rumors that they are given permission to stay. Cornyn said his bill would deter this this way of thinking.