Politics

Biden plans to speed up asylum processing and deportations at the border

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Key Points
  • The Biden administration said it will speed up asylum claim processing for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border while also streamlining deportations for those who don't qualify for asylum. 
  • These border policy changes are part of a broader 21-point-plan that aims to create a more "fair, orderly and humane" immigration system in the wake of the Trump administration's restrictive immigration policies.
  • The plan comes as the Biden administration grapples with the surge of migrants from Mexico and Central American crossing the border illegally.
Migrants from Central America who were detained hand over their belongings to U.S. Border Patrol agents after crossing into the United States from Mexico, in Sunland Park, New Mexico, U.S., July 22, 2021.
Jose Luis Gonzalez | Reuters

The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that it will speed up asylum claim processing for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border while also streamlining deportations for those who don't qualify for asylum. 

These border policy changes are part of a broader 21-point-plan released Tuesday that aims to create a more "fair, orderly and humane" immigration system in the wake of the Trump administration's restrictive immigration policies. 

The plan said that asylum officers will be given the full authority to rule on asylum cases. This would allow asylum-seekers to bypass federal immigration courts that are severely back-logged, making the claim processing faster. 

A court docket dedicated to asylum claims will also be established to prioritize those cases, and 100 judges will be hired to ensure that they are considered in a timely matter, according to the plan. 

Migrants who do not claim asylum or are deemed unqualified for it will be subject to a speedy deportation procedure known as "expedited removal," which allows immigration authorities to deport a migrant without a hearing before a immigration judge. However, the document provided few details about how the deportation procedure would be carried out. 

"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 plan said. 

Randy Capps, the director of research for U.S. Programs at the Migration Policy Institute, said that the use of "expedited removal" is expected to "restore the pathway to asylum."

"Expedited removal would allow the system to function more quickly by no longer putting people into an immigration court system where it takes years for their cases to be considered," Capps said.

The plan comes as the Biden administration grapples with the surge of migrants from Mexico and Central American crossing the border illegally. Migrant detentions have hit 20-year-highs in recent months and showing no signs of abating. 

Brian Hastings, the Border Patrol chief in the Rio Grande Valley, tweeted on Sunday that apprehensions at the border were "skyrocketing." He cited more than 20,000 migrants arrested in the span of one week in the Rio Grande Valley. 

Federal officials have also logged more than 1.1 million apprehensions in the U.S.-Mexico border during the first six months of this fiscal year, with nearly 190,000 apprehensions in June, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

Among the other broader efforts outlined in the plan include addressing the root cause of this increased migration at the southern border, an effort that Vice President Kamala Harris has taken the lead on. 

The plan did not provide a timeline on when the changes would be implemented, but noted that it "won't be achieved overnight" due to the Trump administration's "irrational and inhumane policies."

President Joe Biden has worked to roll-back on many of his predecessor's restrictive immigration policies, even as border detention centers are overwhelmed with migrants. 

But Biden continues to enforce Trump-era restrictions such as Title 42, which was implemented by the former president to prevent the spread of Covid-19. It allows the U.S. to expel migrants without giving them the chance to claim asylum. 

Late Monday, the Biden administration also announced that it would speed up deportations for some migrant families through "expedited removal."

The speedy deportation procedure will specifically apply to family units who are not deported to Mexico under Title 42 and fail to qualify for asylum, according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security. 

The administration's decision to utilize "expedited removal" drew sharp criticism from many immigration advocates, with some claiming that the process would not afford migrants due process.

"An expedited system without due process protections and oversight should never be used where people's lives may be at stake," American Civil Liberties Union Attorney Lee Gelernt told CNBC. 

Avideh Moussavian, the director of federal advocacy at the National Immigration Law Center, said the organization was "deeply troubled" by the decision.

"Doubling down on this harmful policy is a step in the wrong direction and will compound the disparate impact that the administration's focus on deterrence at the border has on low-income migrants of color," Moussavian told CNBC.