The Biden administration on Wednesday proposed a major, long-awaited overhaul to the U.S. asylum system, a decision that comes as migrant apprehensions at the southern border reach a 21-year high, Politico reports.
The policy, a draft of which was reported by Buzzfeed News in May, targets the years-long backlog in immigration cases and aims to expedite new claims by shifting decision-making power for certain migrants away from immigration judges and toward asylum officers, per Buzzfeed. In the case of a denied claim, the asylum seeker would be able to appeal the decision.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the proposed changes will "significantly improve" the DHS' and Department of Justice's ability to "promptly and efficiently" consider asylum claims for migrants encountered at the border while still "ensuring fundamental fairness." "We are building an immigration system that is designed to ensure due process, respect human dignity, and promote equity," he added.
The proposed policy will likely not be implemented for months, as it awaits 60 days-worth of comments from the public. When finalized, it could "represent [President Biden's] largest change to immigration policy thus far," as well as "fundamentally change dynamics at the southern border" in that it dramatically cuts down on the time needed to adjudicate cases, write Politico and Buzzfeed.
"This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence," said Attorney General Merrick Garland. Read more at Buzzfeed News.