The Biden administration announced Friday that families arriving at the US border with Mexico would have their legal proceedings speeded up less than two weeks after it said it would lift pandemic restrictions on asylum.
Under the initiative, immigration courts in 10 cities will generally make decisions within 300 days of arrival.
The plan will cause concern for Republicans, who have linked an increase in arrivals to a weakening of immigration policies and raised concerns among immigrant advocates that they may not be treated under a fair trial.
“Families arriving at the border and placed in immigration proceedings must have their affairs decided in an orderly, efficient and fair manner,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said families arriving at the border should let their affairs be decided “ in an orderly, efficient and fair manner, ” as the Biden administration outlined plans to speed up their immigration cases.
Migrants are crossing the Rio Bravo from Mexico to the US. The number has skyrocketed since President Biden was sworn to power
Migrant families seeking asylum await treatment by U.S. border patrols after crossing the Rio Grande River to the United States from Mexico in Roma, Texas, U.S., May 28, 2021.
‘Recently arrived families should not languish in a multi-year disadvantage; today’s announcement is an important step for both the judiciary and border security. ‘
Under the joint plan of the Department of Justice and Homeland Security, families who have been stopped at the border as of Friday could be placed in an accelerated procedure to determine whether they can stay in the United States.
Judges generally rule these cases within 300 days of an initial hearing in cities such as New York, Los Angeles and border communities such as El Paso, Texas and San Diego.
It is not the first time that US officials have tried to hasten the cases of families arriving on the southwest border.
The Trump and Obama governments have previously made dockets to make a quick decision on these cases before the courts, which are notoriously backward and can take years to resolve.
The announcement comes as President Joe Biden is under increasing pressure to lift pandemic-related restrictions on applications for asylum at the border introduced by the Trump administration in March 2020.
Under the rules, residents of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are typically deported to Mexico within two hours without any opportunity to apply for asylum or other humanitarian protection.
Biden has exempted unaccompanied children, but about one in three people who arrive in families are still subject to it, as is almost every adult.
Unofficial estimates suggest that about 200,000 migrants have entered the United States along the southern border since February 2021.
Last week, the government took measures to relax the rules and agreed to eventually allow 250 people a day to seek refuge in the United States through border crossings.
But immigrant advocates said creating debit cards to speed asylum seekers through the courts is unfair and has in the past caused delays for other migrants who have been waiting years for their cases to be heard.
Eleanor Acer, senior director for refugee protection at Human Rights First, urged the Biden administration to make the Trump administration’s measures difficult to qualify for Central American migrants fleeing violence. for humanitarian protection in the United States.
“US asylum procedures cannot be considered fair if the Biden administration continues to blatantly violate US refugee laws and treaties,” she said in a statement.
The Border Patrol had more than 170,000 encounters in April, the highest number since March 2001, including 50,000 with people traveling in families.
Many are repeat cruisers, as deportation has no legal consequences.
Friday’s announcement gives families at the border a higher priority than other cases in a judicial system with about 1.3 million open cases.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the effort is in line with its goal of courts deciding cases “ quickly and fairly. ”
According to statistics from the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Review, which administers courts, immigrants were given eviction orders in more than 90 percent of cases decided in the family counters of the Trump administration.
Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy adviser at the American Council, said the new plan appears to give judges more discretion to provide continuity in family matters, but he is concerned that many asylum seekers who were placed in these special counters during the last two administrations, represent themselves in court.
“We are very skeptical of yet another attempt to create a ‘rocket roll,’ and have continued to believe rushed justice is not justice at all,” he said.
In addition to New York, Los Angeles, San Diego and El Paso, the role will be introduced in Denver; Detroit; Miami, Newark, New Jersey; San Francisco; and Seattle.