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Biden administration seeks to speed some asylum cases with new immigration docket

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by Ariana Figueroa, NC Newsline
May 17, 2024

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will start a new system Friday to hasten asylum claims for single adults, administration officials said Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Justice will launch a new expedited docket for migrants who arrive alone at ports of entry and turn themselves in to border authorities, senior administration officials said on a call with reporters previewing the changes.

Those single adult migrants will have their asylum cases processed first, rather than have their case go to the back of the line, which can take years.

The new recent arrivals docket will “more swiftly impose consequences, including removal, on those without a legal basis to remain in the United States,” a senior administration official said. Administration officials briefed reporters on the changes on the condition they not be named.

“Today, we are instituting with the Department of Justice a process to accelerate asylum proceedings so that individuals who do not qualify for relief can be removed more quickly and those who do qualify can achieve protection sooner,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

The recent arrivals docket will allow asylum cases to be decided in 180 days, or six months, rather than years, a senior administration official said.

As of April, there is about a 3.6 million-case backlog in U.S. immigration court that will take years to process, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, which is a research center at Syracuse University that collects data on immigration. There are roughly 600 immigration judges in the country.

Average asylum processing time nearly 3 years

Currently, when a migrant arrives to claim asylum, they are processed and, if they are not detained, they are allowed to live in the country while they await their court date. The average processing time for asylum cases for fiscal year 2023, was 1,016 days or about 2.8 years, according to TRAC.

“The recent arrivals docket is designed to decrease the amount of time it takes for certain noncitizen single adults to have their cases efficiently adjudicated by (the Executive Office for Immigration Review),” a senior administration official said.

A senior administration official said single adult migrants placed in the recent arrivals docket will have their cases processed before immigration judges in five cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

There will be 10 immigration judges dedicated to the docket, a senior administration official said.

The new arrivals docket will go into effect Friday, a senior administration official said.

The DOJ and DHS announced a similar process in 2021 where a dedicated docket applied to migrant families that arrived between ports of entry at the Southwest border.

The changes build upon the Biden administration’s announcement last week of a proposed rule that would allow immigration officials to reject asylum seekers who have a criminal record that poses a threat to national security or public safety and quickly remove them.

As the White House deals with the largest number of migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border in 20 years, the Biden administration has faced continued intense criticism about its immigration policies from GOP lawmakers and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump.

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This story is republished from NC Newsline under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.