President Biden's Administration Seeks Quicker Means To Resolve Asylum/Refugee Cases At The U.S. Border
Author: Asylum Lawyer Alena Shautsova
The teeming number of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border hoping to enter the U.S. is no longer news. With the ever-growing number of asylum and refugee cases, so does a great number of these cases go unsettled year in year out. Hence, there's a need for laws and policies that would help in resolving these cases not just once and for all, but as quickly as possible also.
In the light of this trend, the Biden administration has come up with new regulations to hasten the settling of asylum and refugee cases. The regulation in the eyes of its propagators should give justice to whom it is due and ensure that "undeserving" asylum seekers are sent back. The question left unanswered is, "is the new policy the best?" Will it give adequate justice or just deny people the right to proper humanitarian services?" "Can't be better alternatives?"
This article seeks to delve into the sphere of the new regulation and how it could affect asylum seekers and refugees seeking proper arbitration of their cases.
The Scope Of Current Regulations To Determine Asylum/Refugee Cases At The Border
Since 2017 the U.S. has been a major destination for asylum seekers(if not the major one). This has successfully put a humongous burden on the United States system and its ability to handle the teeming cases. Subsequently, this has led to a huge number of asylum/refugee cases going unsettled and their settlement duration spanning into years.
Originally and currently, the authority to settle asylum cases rests with immigration judges. The large accumulation caused by these excessive backlogs has led to millions of unsettled asylum cases for barely 500 immigration judges. Should they continue to handle these cases, it will most definitely take years to settle coupled with current procedures which are not fast as well.
Hence, the U.S. Department of Justice and Homeland Security have agreed to grant a policy that allows officials of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to decide asylum/refugee cases at the border instead of immigration judges. Officials of the USCIS before the proposal of this rule were only in charge of initial screening at the border. This new rule will give them sole authority to decide asylum cases. Although, the rule excludes unaccompanied children seeking refuge.
The new rule seeks to start and complete immigration cases in less than six months as opposed to the current system. The new rule being proposed posits that if a person is deemed not fit to gain asylum privilege by the USCIS, then that person will be faced with deportation and proceedings are to be conducted within 90 days by an immigration judge.
On the other hand, if a person can establish a reasonable need to vacate his home country (perhaps due to persecution), then a date will be fixed for them to meet an asylum officer. This must happen within 21 to 45 days. The asylum officer has 60 days after the interview to ascertain if they are fully eligible for asylum or not.
The Homeland Secretary, Mayorkas, believes that through this rule a more efficient and effective system for the determination of asylum cases will be built. A system that will ensure that qualified individuals get the due humanitarian services within a short period.
The rule is also believed to take much strain off immigration judges who are flooded with backlogs rolling into millions. While initially, asylum vases could take 2 to 3 years to resolve, this rule shortens it to a few months.
Although many advocates believe that the new rule is quite unfair as it would deprive many asylum seekers of getting adequate representation during hearings. This is coupled with the huge problem of understanding faced by the USCIS which is also suffering from enormous backlogs in unattended applications of more than 9 million.
While the new regulation may enable fast decisions, due to improper representation qualified asylum seekers may be sent back into danger. It's near impossible for denied asylum seekers to get a lawyer on such short notice to plead their cause. Notwithstanding, many asylum seekers also face a language barrier, in which case they would need an interpreter or a lawyer that understands them.
Coupled with Title 42, asylum/refugee seekers are most likely set up for failure. Meanwhile, this goes against the United States' moralistic code for rendering the needed humanitarian services to those who need them. Most likely, as earlier mentioned many asylum seekers stand a fine chance of being sent into danger's arms. The good news is that Biden administration is going to rescind Title 42 practice starting late May, 2022.
If you need help with your asylum case, book a confidential consultation with NYC Immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova by calling 917 885 2261.