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Biden administration looks to speed review of asylum cases with new dedicated docket

The Biden administration is taking aim at the backlog of asylum cases from those who have recently arrived at the border, creating a dedicated docket in the hopes of more swiftly adjudicating the claims.

Although largely a matter of managing the court’s workflow, in seeking to address the lingering cases, the administration is going after a problem that GOP critics complain allows migrants to spend years in the U.S. before facing potential removal.

While asylum status is designed to help those fleeing persecution and danger, many seeking it who pass an initial screening at the border may not ultimately qualify for the protections, which cover only certain classes of people and circumstances.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement that the new docket would “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.”

“This administrative step is no 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 discourage irregular migration,” he added.

There is currently a years-long backlog of more than 3 million cases working their way through the immigration court system.

The new docket for single adults who crossed between ports of entry mirrors a similar one already established for family cases. The docket will be in use for cases in five cities — Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York — and judges will face a six-month timeline for reaching a determination in the case.

The plan does not, however, include funding for additional immigration court judges, something a bipartisan immigration package considered in the Senate would have included.

A senior administration official said judges have already been identified who will be focused on the new cases, and that a dedicated workforce would be able to handle the new cases “on a more expedited timeline than say the average immigration case.”

Another official stressed that the length of time for the system to currently weigh such cases is being “exploited by smuggling networks,” some more effectively combated with deportations.

“We are confident that reducing the time it takes people to go through that process and being able to deliver consequences for those who are not to have a legal basis to remain in the United States in the form of a removal is the single most effective tool we have in our toolbox in order to deter dealer migration,” the official said.

Source: The Hill

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