The Biden administration will begin a streamlined process on Tuesday that will expedite asylum claims for illegal migrants. The asylum process can take years to complete and with the historically high number of illegal migrants during the Biden border crisis, there is a backlog of cases to process. In order to expedite the backlog, the administration will begin a new policy that allows asylum officers with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review asylum applications, a job that currently falls to immigration judges.
The new policy will begin slowly and small. The problem is that there are not enough immigration judges, though there are 600 of them in the country, that can issue approval for asylum claims. Currently, only one judge can give approval to migrants allegedly fleeing persecution to remain in the United States. This doesn’t make sense to me but it seems to be further proof of the Biden administration’s refusal to allocate enough personnel to handle the flood of migrants crossing the southern border.
“This rule is designed to transform how asylum claims are handled at our nation’s borders. To cut down unwieldy, slow-moving bureaucracy and establish a fair and efficient process in its place. It will allow noncitizens who are eligible for relief to be granted relief quickly. And importantly, it will also allow DHS to swiftly remove individuals who are ineligible much earlier in the process,” a senior USCIS official told reporters Thursday, referring to the Department of Homeland Security.
“It will allow noncitizens who are eligible for relief to be granted relief quickly. And importantly, it will also allow DHS to quickly remove individuals who are ineligible much earlier in the process.”
Color me skeptical that this change in procedure is meant to expedite removal of migrants claiming asylum. The waves of migrants appearing at the southern border have been coached to ask for asylum in order to be allowed to stay until their claims are processed. When the pandemic began and Title 42 was put in effect, immediate expulsion of some migrants was used to curb the overcrowding of shelters and detention centers along the southern border. Biden has been clear all along that his goal is to pass sweeping amnesty for illegal immigrants. If they get across the border, he wants to let them stay. Otherwise, he would secure the southern border with enough personnel and resources to get the job done.
Allowing asylum officers to do the initial screening to determine if a migrant can remain and pursue an asylum claim is meant to ease the current backlog in immigration courts, currently at 1.7 million. The backlog means that it can take more than four years to work through the process as it stands. So, the new rule shifts authority from immigration judges under the DOJ to USCIS officers in Homeland Security. The Biden administration doesn’t need legislative approval to make the change because Immigration judges have authority under a regulatory umbrella. The U.S. attorney general remains responsible for oversight of immigration judges.
The Biden administration has said for months that DHS concentrates on expelling single adults while allowing most families to remain. DHS allows all unaccompanied minors to stay. The new program is open to single adults as well as families. The roll-out of the pilot program begins on a small scale next Tuesday. Asylum officers are expected to receive a “few hundred” cases per month during the initial implementation phase. The program will start out using two Texas detention sites. Here’s a twist – asylum-seekers who tell border officials they plan to live near Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, or San Francisco will be enrolled in the new program. That sounds like more shuffling migrants around the country to ease the situation along the border. Do we think these liberal-leaning areas of the country will be cracking down on asylum claims that don’t qualify for asylum? Migrants know that claiming asylum allows them the ability to remain in the United States as long as it takes for their claim to be processed, likely years. That is why they are coached to claim asylum. Most, in fact, are coming for economic reasons – a better job, housing for them and their families, for example – which is understandable but not a reason for asylum under current immigration law.
Instead of cutting the bureaucracy, it looks like this just adds another layer, perhaps using less qualified people to make judgments.
Those asylum-seekers who pass the screenings will be required to attend an interview at an USCIS office in Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark or San Francisco. The in-person interviews will take place no more than 45 days after the initial screenings. If migrants fail to attend the interviews, they will be placed in deportation proceedings, officials said.
USCIS officers would then have 60 days after that interview to deny or grant migrants asylum. Migrants who are granted asylum are allowed to stay in the U.S. and qualify for permanent residency a year after the decision.
U.S. law allows the government to grant asylum to immigrants who suffered or fear persecution in their home country because of their nationality, race, religion, political views or membership in a “particular social group.”
If a migrant’s asylum claim is denied at this stage, their case will be transferred to the immigration courts, which hold adversarial hearings. Judges would then be tasked with deciding within 90 days whether migrants should be ordered deported or allowed to stay because they qualify for humanitarian relief.
We’ll see what happens next week. So far the announcement reads like it’s just more moving the seats on the Titanic instead of working to secure the border. DHS is under the gun to come up with workable solutions to the overwhelming number of migrants crossing the border when Title 42 ends. There are thousands of migrants waiting in Mexico along the border to come in when that day happens. The Biden administration can’t handle the current Biden border crisis. There’s no way it will be able to do so when the number of migrants increases, predicted to triple in number when Title 42 ends. What a mess.