Biden Administration Announces Major Overhaul Changes to US Asylum System

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By Ibrahim Dagher

WASHINGTON, D.C.––The Biden administration recently announced new overhauling changes to the US asylum system. The administration is seeking to lay the groundwork for systemic change in the way asylum cases are handled in the immigration court system. The news comes as part of a wider effort by the administration to deal with a growing surge of incoming immigrants at the southern border. 

United States Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced in a recent statement that the administration would begin implementing “long-needed systemic reforms” for asylum seekers and their cases, which are handled by the American immigration court system. Specifically, Mayorkas plans to “shorten from years to months the time it takes to adjudicate an asylum claim,” while at the same time “ensuring procedural safeguards and enhancing access to counsel.” 

The administration plans to achieve its goal of quickening the process by moving many asylum cases from the purview of the Department of Justice to the Department of Homeland Security. This comes as a relief for many immigration officials, as the number of pending immigration cases in the system is over one million. 

The hope is that such a move will remove pressure from the Justice Department’s immense asylum caseload, and as such create a system that is better equipped to handle the increasing surge of migrants at the southwest border. According to recent reports, Homeland Security officials, who already deal with asylum seeker cases, will be able to help handle around 400,000 additional cases and thus quicken the adjudication process.

These policy plans come as a refreshing piece of news in light of the recent migration crisis at the border which was also under the Biden administration. A recent research article by Pew Research indicates that migrant apprehensions have been increasing at a historic rate since Biden took office. 

Even more alarming is the fact that the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border has risen 63 percent, with over 10,000 minors being apprehended by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office. As such, Biden’s call for a more flexible and efficient migrant case handling system was in high order. 

Furthermore, given the surge in unaccompanied migrant apprehensions, an important part of this announcement is Mayorkas’ outline of how the administration is working on “creating joint processing centers so that children can be placed in HHS care immediately after Border Patrol encounters them.” 

The Biden administration is approaching the migrant border crisis not only with systemic changes to legal adjudication and purview, but also with the proper infrastructure to maintain a humane apprehension process at the border. 

It may be this dualist policymaking that President Biden referenced as his “multi-pronged approach toward managing migration…that reflects the Nation’s highest values,” in a February Executive Order which set up the framework for these new judicial changes later on. 

There is much to be said concerning the border migration surge that the Biden administration faces. Much conversation revolves around whether its main causes come from a combination of COVID-19 and climate change, or if at the heart of the issue lies President Biden’s own policymaking. What seems to be clear, though, is that these recent announcements are the starting points, if not cornerstones, of a response to the crisis by the Biden Administration.

Ibrahim Dagher is a first-year Philosophy major and Political Science minor at UC Davis from the Central Valley. His interests include writing professional analytic philosophy and engaging in public speaking events.

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10 thoughts on “Biden Administration Announces Major Overhaul Changes to US Asylum System”

  1. Keith Olsen

    Even more alarming is the fact that the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border has risen 63 percent, with over 10,000 minors being apprehended by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office.

    And why do you think this is happening?

  2. Ron Oertel

    This comes as a relief for many immigration officials, as the number of pending immigration cases in the system is over one million

    This is clearly out-of-control.  What you have is a system in which immigrants themselves (rather than government) are deciding policy, with the help of their “defenders”. This is not a select/limited number of individuals seeking asylum due to their “unique” circumstances.

    Needless to say, it is also encouraging individuals to take life-threatening risks, on their journey.

    This is one reason that Trump was elected.  It was, in fact, the “starting point” for his campaign.  Which, due to the ugly manner in which he said it, was incorrectly assumed by many to also be the “ending point” for his campaign.

  3. Don Shor

    The hope is that such a move will remove pressure from the Justice Department’s immense asylum caseload, and as such create a system that is better equipped to handle the increasing surge of migrants at the southwest border. According to recent reports, Homeland Security officials, who already deal with asylum seeker cases, will be able to help handle around 400,000 additional cases and thus quicken the adjudication process.

    Huh. I wonder why there’s such a backlog. Might have to do with resource allocation in recent years.

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      The implication being that even more money should be spent for those attempting to immigrate illegally?

      That is, unless one million-plus people are “legitimately” seeking asylum (and the questions that arise regarding the asylum system as a result).

      Can the U.S. continue to purposefully accommodate all of those described on the Statute of Liberty’s scroll? (Or, just those who can walk-into the country?)

      What’s the rest of the world doing about it? China, for example? Honestly, I don’t think that some realize that the U.S. is not going to be the world’s leader.

      1. Don Shor

        The implication being that even more money should be spent for those attempting to immigrate illegally?

        More money should be spent to adjudicate pending cases.

        That is, unless one million-plus people are “legitimately” seeking asylum

        That would be determined by the immigration courts.

        Can the U.S. continue to purposefully accommodate all of those described on the Statute of Liberty’s scroll?

        We need an immigration reform bill. Until that is accomplished by Congress, we will have this patchwork system of laws and executive orders attempting to deal with fluctuating migrations to our borders from other countries, which occur in response to climate disasters, horrendous conditions in their home countries, collapse of civil order in countries where we have been involved in military actions and direct or indirect overthrow of governments over several generations.
        An immigration reform bill will include a number of provisions similar to what the Senate passed in 2013, which the then-Republican leadership of the House refused to allow to be brought to the floor for a vote. It would likely have passed, and been signed by the president, with a combination of majority votes from Democrats and a minority of votes from Republicans in the House. But the ‘rule’ then was that nothing was allowed to the floor for a vote unless a majority of Republicans in the House would vote for it.
        So we don’t have immigration reform. We have under-resourced asylum systems, under-resourced immigration courts, and under-resourced detention facilities.

        What’s the rest of the world doing about it? China, for example?

        I could not care less and can’t think why you do.

        1. Ron Oertel

          I could not care less and can’t think why you do.

          That’s unfortunate.  There’s lots of suffering in the world, at the hands of others (e.g., Somalia, Myanmar, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.).

          I’m not sure why the U.S. prioritizes those who can walk into the country illegally (and/or – drop unaccompanied children over a high wall), vs. all those who are restricted to legal entry options.

          We need an immigration reform bill. 

          “We” need to remove incentives to immigrate illegally. If that was done, you wouldn’t even need a wall, or much of an asylum/detention system.

          1. David Greenwald

            Ron – it looks like you have misconstrued Don’s comment.

            “What’s the rest of the world doing about it? China, for example?”

            Don: I could not care less and can’t think why you do.

            Ron: That’s unfortunate. There’s lots of suffering in the world, at the hands of others (e.g., Somalia, Myanmar, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.).

            I could be wrong but wasn’t your initial comment about China’s policies on handling refugees? But by your second comment, it seems to have morphed into a more generalized comment. Am I misreading this?

        2. Ron Oertel

          My comment was not in regard to China per se.  It was more of a comment regarding what the overall role of the U.S. should be (going forward), in regard to immigrants. (Both those who “qualify” for asylum, AND those who don’t).

          Right now, the policy seems to be determined by those who can walk-into the country (or dropped from a high wall), illegally. Which might indicate that the “policy” (or lack thereof) is not even prioritizing those most at risk.

          There was a time when this country was largely a sparsely-populated frontier (well, after the U.S. “cleared-out” the Native Americans – who were sparsely populated themselves – and were subdivided by tribes).  That time has past.

          Of course, the original “South Americans” were also cleared-out, but that’s another story.

           

           

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