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United States

New Biden administration rule aims to speed up asylum screening for limited group of migrants

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new Biden administration rule announced Thursday aims to speed up asylum processing at the southern border, enabling it to quickly reject a limited group of people believed to have committed serious crimes or who have terrorist links.

The change comes as the administration has been struggling to demonstrate to voters during an election where immigration is a key issue that it has a handle on the southern border. Republicans have consistently slammed the Biden administration over policies that they say have worsened problems at the southern border.

In a statement announcing the changes, the Department of Homeland Security said migrants who are deemed to pose a public threat are taken into custody but a determination on whether they’re eligible for asylum isn’t made until later in the asylum process. Under the proposed rule, asylum officers hearing cases at an initial screening stage that happens just days after a person arrives in the country will now be able to consider that criminal history or terrorist links when deciding whether someone should ultimately be removed from the country.

“This will allow DHS to expeditiously remove individuals who pose a threat to the United States much sooner than is currently the case, better safeguarding the security of our border and our country,” the department said in the statement.

Under current law, there are certain mandatory bars that make people ineligible for asylum, for example, if you’ve been convicted of a particularly serious crime. But those usually come into play when an immigration judge is making a final determination on whether someone gets asylum and that process can take years. Migrants are usually detained during this time, the department said.

“The proposed rule would allow Asylum Officers to issue denial of claims within days after an individual is encountered when there is evidence that the individual is barred from asylum because of a terrorism, national security, or criminal bar, thereby significantly shortening the overall time between encounter and removal from the United States,” the department said.

The agency gave no figures on how many people would be affected by the determination but said in the statement that it was small.

Rebecca Santana, The Associated Press


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