This graph shows the number of individuals granted asylum in the U.S. from 1990 to 2011. 2,800 persons were granted asylum defensively in 1990.
There are two ways in which to file for asylum, affirmatively or defensively. People who apply affirmatively are those who come to the U.S. either legally or illegally but have not been put into removal proceedings. They apply with the Asylum Office. If arrested and put into removal proceedings, however, an individual can apply defensively, that is with the Immigration Judge.