HomeTop StoriesThe US announces efforts to expedite legal cases against migrants crossing the...

The US announces efforts to expedite legal cases against migrants crossing the border illegally

The Biden administration on Thursday announced an effort to shorten the time it takes for U.S. immigration judges to decide the asylum cases of certain migrants who enter the country illegally along the border with Mexico.

Adult migrants released by federal border officials after unlawfully entering the U.S. are eligible for placement in the program, under a joint initiative between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, which oversees the country’s immigration courts.

The goal of the effort, senior U.S. officials said, is to speed up the process of granting asylum to migrants with legitimate cases and rejecting weak ones. Federal officials under Republican and Democratic administrations have said that the current, years-long timeframe for deciding asylum cases serves as a “pull factor” that attracts migration of economic migrants, who do not qualify for humanitarian protection but who often use the asylum system to work in the US

In recent years, the immigration court backlog has increased dramatically, leading to wait times that often exceed four years. Fewer than 800 immigration judges oversee more than 3.5 million unresolved cases.

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Single migrant adults planning to live in five major U.S. cities — Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City — could be selected for the new process, which will instruct immigration judges to make decisions within 180 days, instead of years.

Since the Obama administration, the US has established several similar programs, colloquially known as “missile dossiers.” Although officials have portrayed them as ways to deter illegal immigration, advocates say the rocket proofs trample on migrants’ due process rights by making it harder for them to find lawyers in time for their hearings.

The scope of Thursday’s announcement was not immediately clear, as U.S. officials declined to provide an estimate of the number of migrants who would be placed in the fast-track procedure. Ten judges have been assigned to the program, one of the officials said while speaking to reporters.

The latest missile rollout is the latest step the Biden administration has taken to curtail this illegal border crossingswhich peaked last year reaching record levels. Last week, the Biden administration published one proposed rule that would allow immigration officials to more quickly reject and deport asylum-seeking migrants deemed to endanger public safety or national security.

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Last year, the government introduced a regulation that would make migrants ineligible for U.S. asylum if they enter the country illegally after failing to seek refuge in another country. It combined that policy with a vast expansion of the ability of some potential migrants to legally enter the US.

President Biden, who has increasingly embraced a more restrictive border policy, has also considered a more sweeping measure that would further limit asylum for those entering the U.S. illegally. The move, which would rely on a presidential authority known as 212(f), would almost certainly face legal challenges.

Administration officials have argued that they are investigating unilateral immigration actions following the collapse of a border security deal the White House struck with a bipartisan group of senators earlier this year. Although the deal would have severely limited asylum and increased deportations without legalizing illegal immigrants, most Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have rejected it outright.

“This administrative action is not a substitute for the sweeping and much-needed changes that the bipartisan Senate bill would deliver, but in the absence of congressional action, we will do what we can to most effectively enforce the law and deter irregular migration ,” said Homeland Security. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said this in a statement on Thursday.

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The Biden administration has faced unprecedented levels of migration along the southern border, including more than two million migrant apprehensions in each of the past two years.

Southern border of migrants
Migrants line up to be transferred by U.S. Border Patrol after crossing the Bravo River in El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, on April 18, 2024.

HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images


However, migrants have been crossing in recent months have dived, breaking historical patterns that have seen migration boom in the spring. Last month, Border Patrol recorded nearly 129,000 apprehensions of migrants, up from 137,000 in March, according to government data. American officials did that increased deportations credited and a crackdown on immigration by Mexico because of the surprising drop.

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