Locust swarms, crop failures and starving people likely to test limits of asylum law, By Nolan Rappaport

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According to UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) figures, there are 70.8 million people around the world who have been forced by conflict or persecution to leave their homes. Nearly 25.9 million of them are refugees, more than half of whom are children under the age of 18.

In 2018 alone, there were 37,000 displacements a day, and by the end of 2018, there were 3.5 million people waiting for a decision on an asylum application.

New threat will increase the number of displaced persons

Enormous swarms of locusts are threatening the crops and pastures of millions of people in East Africa. They’re moving at a voracious pace. Video clips of the swarms are shocking.

The locust swarms have spread to seven nearby countries already, including Djibouti, Eritrea and Uganda — and the locusts aren’t just in East Africa.

Pakistan's government has declared a national emergency in response to swarms of locusts in the eastern part of that country. Pakistani Information Minister Firdous Ashiq said, "We are facing the worst locust infestation in more than two decades.”

The United Nations (UN) fears that this plague of locusts will trigger a humanitarian crisis.

Locusts are the world’s oldest and most destructive migratory pest. An average swarm in the current plague has up to 40 million insects, and can travel up to 93 miles in a single day, devouring enough food to feed millions of people.

Many of the people living in these areas will seek asylum in the United States, but very few of them — if any — will be able to establish eligibility.

Asylum eligibility very narrowly defined by law


Published original on The Hill

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @NolanR1 or at