Biden Plans to Expedite Asylum Processing for New Migrants at Southern Border

The Biden administration is preparing additional changes to the asylum system aimed at expediting the processing and potential removal of migrants arriving at the southern border. This initiative is an interim measure as President Joe Biden considers a broader executive order to address border crossings later this year.

The proposed changes will prioritize certain new arrivals at the border, allowing them to be processed through the asylum system ahead of those already in the queue. This information comes from four sources familiar with the plan, who spoke anonymously ahead of the official announcement expected from the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department. The goal is to process recent arrivals within six months, significantly faster than the current system, which can take years due to a severe backlog.

The new rules will apply to migrants who cross between ports of entry and turn themselves in to immigration authorities. By swiftly processing these migrants, the administration hopes to deter others from attempting the journey.

Currently, the nation’s immigration court system is overwhelmed with a record 3 million cases, and each judge has an average caseload of 5,000. This reform aims to move new arrivals to the front of the line for asylum decisions, facilitating the deportation of those with denied claims within months rather than years. This approach follows similar efforts by the Obama and Trump administrations.

In 2022, the Biden administration launched a pilot program in nine cities where asylum officers, instead of immigration judges, decided a limited number of family claims. However, this program received minimal support. Additionally, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began a program in 45 cities to expedite initial asylum screenings for families and deport those who fail within a month, although ICE has not released data on its effectiveness.

Earlier this year, a bipartisan border agreement proposed by three senators and supported by Biden included funding for 100 new immigration judges and aides. However, the legislation stalled after opposition from former President Donald Trump and his allies.

Immigrant advocacy groups have expressed concerns about speeding up the asylum process, arguing that it could compromise the fairness and thoroughness of proceedings for migrants who have endured difficult journeys to the U.S.

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