"Asylum is a complex area of immigration law and policy. While much of the recent debate surrounding asylum has focused on efforts by the Trump Administration to address asylum seekers arriving at the U.S. southern border, U.S. asylum policies have long been a subject of discussion. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952, as originally enacted, did not contain any language on asylum. Asylum provisions were added and then revised by a series of subsequent laws. Currently, the INA provides for the granting of asylum to an alien who applies for such relief in accordance with applicable requirements and is determined to be a refugee. The INA defines a refugee, in general, as a person who is outside his or her country of nationality and is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion."
CRS Report for Congress, R45539
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/