Asylum seekers claiming persecution in home counties more than double at Southwest border

Requests for asylum in the United States along the Southwest border have more than doubled over the last three years as immigrants seek legal entry into the country by claiming fear of persecution back home.

That's according to figures released Friday by the federal government.

The Department of Homeland Security says the number of so-called credible fear claims at the border reached nearly 15,000 by the end of June, with three more months to go in the fiscal year. That's compared with about 7,000 such claims for the entire 2011 fiscal year.

The numbers represent what's known as "defensive" applications where foreigners who are outside the U.S. arrive at ports of entry seeking asylum. They don't include additional asylum requests filed by immigrants who are already in the U.S. The department says those figures aren't available.