President Joe Biden plans to allow border officers to quickly approve migrants’ requests for asylum and eventual citizenship, bypassing the review by the immigration courts, according to a policy memo released this week.
The White House released a 21-point fact sheet Tuesday outlining the administration’s blueprint for molding the immigration system by executive fiat according to goals the president has been pushing since taking office.
“Further improving the efficiency and fairness of the U.S. asylum system by authorizing asylum officers to adjudicate asylum claims for those arriving at the border and establishing clear and just eligibility standards that harmonize the U.S. approach with international standards,” the White House noted in the document.
The Biden administration said it will deport migrants who do not qualify for asylum. Biden’s assertion came after expanding asylum eligibility to many migrants, fueling the immigration court backlog amid the record levels of border crossers in recent months.
Republicans blame Biden’s rescinding his predecessor’s immigration policies for the border crisis that intensified once the new administration took office.
Meanwhile, the Biden folks continue to blame former President Donald Trump, writing in the document that Biden’s plan “won’t be achieved overnight” due to his predecessor’s “irrational and inhumane policies.”
After allowing entry to many migrants, Biden’s White House noted:
The administration is working to improve the expedited removal process at the border to fairly and efficiently determine which individuals have legitimate claims for asylum and other forms of protection.
Asylum and other legal migration pathways should remain available to those seeking protection. Those not seeking protection or who don’t qualify will be promptly removed to their countries of origin.
The White House did not provide a timeline for implementing its border policy changes.
Currently, the immigration courts face a backlog of more than 1.2 million cases.
Under Biden’s plans, the White House aims to send asylum cases to a docket explicitly dedicated to giving priority to asylum claims.
It also plans to reduce the backlogs by hiring more immigration judges to handle priority cases quickly.
Many of the ideas in the fact sheet are not new. They have already been proposed through the federal rulemaking process and budget proposals, such as the hiring 100 new immigration judges, but are now being codified in one strategic plan, NBC News noted.
Biden officials wrote:
The FY 2022 Budget requests an additional 100 immigration judges and provides support for additional court staff to ensure the efficient and fair processing of cases. The Department of Justice also restored the discretion of immigration judges to administratively close cases in another step to ensure priority cases are considered in a timely manner.
The Biden administration has added to the strain on the immigration courts by expanding asylum benefits to several demographics, such as victims of domestic and gang violence.
None of those cases qualify for asylum under U.S. law, which requires that applicants face persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
The asylum seeker must also prove their home government is complicit in their predicament or unwilling or incapable to stop it.
Further adding to the immigration court woes, the Biden administration began processing asylum cases of individuals enrolled in the now-defunct Trump-era Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) program, known as the Remain in Mexico policy.
Moreover, President Biden has granted exemptions to the anti-pandemic removal measure invoked by the Trump administration (Title 42) to tens of thousands of asylum-seekers unaccompanied children, many families, and certain individuals.
It could take years for some migrants to see an immigration judge or asylum officer if Biden takes time implementing his immigration reforms. In the meantime, the Biden administration is offering some migrants with pending asylum claims work permits.
Presidents and lawmakers from both parties have promised to reform the U.S. immigration system, to no avail.
Late on Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it will begin the expedited removal of families who enter the U.S. under Biden’s Title 42 exceptions but do not qualify for asylum.