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Biden administration seeks to speed up asylum process with new rules

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The Biden administration announced new rules regarding the asylum process. The rules, which are expected to be published in the Federal Registry next Tuesday and take effect 60 days after that, would give the power to grant or deny asylum claims to asylum officers. Currently only immigration judges have that authority, with asylum officers only doing initial screenings and humanitarian relief for border arrivals.

“It will help reduce the burden on our immigration courts, protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence, and enable immigration judges to issue removal orders when appropriate,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a Thursday statement announcing the new rules. “This rule advances our efforts to ensure that asylum claims are processed fairly, expeditiously, and consistent with due process.”

Currently, asylum claims for people who are not detained take an average of nearly four years to decide. Under the new rules, asylum officers expect to decide cases in 90 days. Rejected applicants will be sent to immigration judges, who are also expected to issue decisions in 90 days.

“The current system for handling asylum claims at our borders has long needed repair,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “Through this rule, we are building a more functional and sensible asylum system to ensure that individuals who are eligible will receive protection more swiftly, while those who are not eligible will be rapidly removed.”

The new asylum process rules may run into some hurdles, and some have concerns with it. First and foremost, they could run into legal challenges. Many changes to the immigration system during the Trump and Biden administrations have been successfully challenged, delayed or modified in courts.

Then there’s paying for the manpower required to handle so many cases so quickly. Last year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services estimated “it will need to hire approximately 800 new employees and spend approximately $180 million to fully implement the proposed asylum officer hearing and adjudication process to handle approximately 75,000 cases annually.”

Thursday’s announcement drew concern from the American Immigration Council, who argued the target speed the Biden administration is shooting for could put immigrants at a disadvantage when their immigration hearing comes around.

“These timelines are punishing, brutal, and will almost certainly prevent the vast majority of asylum seekers going through this system from being able to obtain lawyers,” American Immigration Council Senior Policy Counsel Aaron Reichlin-Melnick tweeted Thursday.

Gwen Baumgardner: A SHAKE-UP COMING TO THE SOUTHERN BORDER AS THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION LOOKS TO EXPEDITE THE ASYLUM PROCESS.
THEIR GOAL IS TO HAVE CASES DECIDED IN A MATTER OF MONTHS…INSTEAD OF YEARS.
UNDER THE NEW RULES TAKING EFFECT IN MAY — ASYLUM OFFICERS WILL HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO GRANT OR DENY CLAIMS.
CURRENTLY — IMMIGRATION JUDGES ARE THE ONLY ONES ALLOWED TO MAKE THAT CALL.

IN A STATEMENT THURSDAY– ATTORNEY GENERAL MERRICK GARLAND SAID THE NEW RULES WILL EASE THE BURDEN ON IMMIGRATION COURTS.
WITH THE EXPECTATION THAT ASYLUM OFFICERS WILL DECIDE CASES WITHIN 90 DAYS.

IT’S UNCLEAR HOW THE ADMINISTRATION PLANS TO PAY FOR THE ADDITIONAL MANPOWER.
LAST YEAR — OFFICIALS ESTIMATED IT WOULD NEED TO HIRE 800 MORE PEOPLE TO HANDLE ABOUT 75-THOUSAND CASES A YEAR.

The Biden administration announced new rules regarding the asylum process. The rules, which are expected to be published in the Federal Registry next Tuesday and take effect 60 days after that, would give the power to grant or deny asylum claims to asylum officers. Currently only immigration judges have that authority, with asylum officers only doing initial screenings and humanitarian relief for border arrivals.

“It will help reduce the burden on our immigration courts, protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence, and enable immigration judges to issue removal orders when appropriate,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a Thursday statement announcing the new rules. “This rule advances our efforts to ensure that asylum claims are processed fairly, expeditiously, and consistent with due process.”

Currently, asylum claims for people who are not detained take an average of nearly four years to decide. Under the new rules, asylum officers expect to decide cases in 90 days. Rejected applicants will be sent to immigration judges, who are also expected to issue decisions in 90 days.

“The current system for handling asylum claims at our borders has long needed repair,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “Through this rule, we are building a more functional and sensible asylum system to ensure that individuals who are eligible will receive protection more swiftly, while those who are not eligible will be rapidly removed.”

The new asylum process rules may run into some hurdles, and some have concerns with it. First and foremost, they could run into legal challenges. Many changes to the immigration system during the Trump and Biden administrations have been successfully challenged, delayed or modified in courts.

Then there’s paying for the manpower required to handle so many cases so quickly. Last year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services estimated “it will need to hire approximately 800 new employees and spend approximately $180 million to fully implement the proposed asylum officer hearing and adjudication process to handle approximately 75,000 cases annually.”

Thursday’s announcement drew concern from the American Immigration Council, who argued the target speed the Biden administration is shooting for could put immigrants at a disadvantage when their immigration hearing comes around.

“These timelines are punishing, brutal, and will almost certainly prevent the vast majority of asylum seekers going through this system from being able to obtain lawyers,” American Immigration Council Senior Policy Counsel Aaron Reichlin-Melnick tweeted Thursday.

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