The Biden administration announced Wednesday a new rule to speed up asylum processing at the southern border, both with quicker entry into the U.S. as well as a broader scope for removal — as the administration looks to tackle the continuing crisis at the border.
The rule, announced by both the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, would allow U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials at the border to decide asylum claims — initially bypassing immigration courts within the DOJ.
The rule notes that the number of asylum claims “has skyrocketed over the years, the system has proven unable to keep pace, resulting in large backlogs and lengthy adjudication delays.”
“A system that takes years to reach a result is simply not a functional one,” the rule says.
Currently, the government is limited from putting migrant families into a process called “expedited removal” — which allows for quick deportation of those with invalid asylum claims — due to detention constraints that require most in the process to be in detention. It would not apply to unaccompanied children.
The rule loosens parole limits, which would allow DHS to release more migrants enrolled in expedited removal into the U.S. but also to enroll more migrant families into the process in the first place. By doing so, it also allows the U.S. to quickly deport migrants who are deemed not to have a valid asylum claim.
“These proposed changes will significantly improve DHS’s and DOJ’s ability to more promptly and efficiently consider the asylum claims of individuals encountered at or near the border, while ensuring fundamental fairness,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “Individuals who are eligible will receive relief more swiftly, while those who are not eligible will be expeditiously removed. We are building an immigration system that is designed to ensure due process, respect human dignity, and promote equity.”
A DHS official told Fox News that the department will also hire approximately 1,000 new asylum officers and 1,000 new support staff, assuming a caseload of 150,000 claims per year. The official said USCIS is planning to increase staffing and infrastructure capacity to handle the full workload that would be seen under the rule. The agency is looking at “multiple avenues” for potential funding. Reuters first reported the hiring increase.
It’s one of a number of steps the Biden administration is taking as part of its strategy to combat the ongoing border crisis, for which it is taking significant criticism from Republicans and former officials who blame the administration’s policies for encouraging and allowing illegal immigration into the U.S.
More than 212,000 migrants were encountered in July, and Mayorkas privately described the situation as “unsustainable,” while at the same time emphasizing that he believes the Biden administration’s plan is working.
That plan focuses on tackling root causes like poverty and violence in Central America, opening up legal asylum pathways, and going after the smugglers who facilitate the smuggling of illegal immigrants into the U.S.
While the administration has placed significant emphasis on the quicker processing and release of migrants into the U.S., it has also recently made some nods toward tough enforcement measures. It extended Trump-era Title 42 public health protections at the border that allow for the rapid expulsion of single adults and some migrant families.
Last month, DHS announced it is resuming removal flights into Central America for those who are judged not to have a valid asylum claim. It also recently announced it is sending flights into the Mexican interior with migrants who have been expelled via Title 42.