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Biden administration proposes streamlining asylum cases

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Asylum seekers demonstrate at the San Ysidro border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico,  praying and listening to speeches on March 26. On Wednesday, the Biden administration said it wants to streamline the asylum process to ease a backlog of cases. File Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Asylum seekers demonstrate at the San Ysidro border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico,  praying and listening to speeches on March 26. On Wednesday, the Biden administration said it wants to streamline the asylum process to ease a backlog of cases. File Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 18 (UPI) -- The Biden administration on Wednesday proposed a new rule for processing asylum cases in an effort to speed up the system and ease a backlog at the southern border.

Under the new proposed rules, which will be open for public comment, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officers will be able to decide on asylum applications without the cases having to be assigned to immigration judges for review.

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"These proposed changes will significantly improve [the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice's] ability to more promptly and efficiently consider the asylum claims of individuals encountered at or near the border, while ensuring fundamental fairness," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.

"Individuals who are eligible will receive relief more swiftly, while those who are not eligible will be expeditiously removed. We are building an immigration system that is designed to ensure due process, respect human dignity, and promote equity."

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Attorney General Merrick Garland said the new rule would reduce the caseload and "protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence." The Hill reported there are about 1.3 million cases in the immigration courts backlog, which take some four years to process if no new cases were added.

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In cases denied by USCIS officers, asylum-seekers may request a review by an immigration judge under what the Department of Homeland Security described as a "streamlined process" with the Board of Immigration Appeals.

The proposed rule wouldn't apply to unaccompanied minors to those already living in the United States.

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The proposal comes amid a record surge in attempted border crossings. Customs and Border Protection said it had 212,672 encounters at the southern border in July, the highest monthly figure in 21 years and a 13% increase from June.

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