Biden Administration Asylum Processing Revamp at the U.S. Border Could Be a Game Changer

Dories Meissner
Date of Publication: 
August, 2021
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

This commentary from MPI briefly explains a proposed rule issued by the Biden administration to overhaul the asylum system with the aim of more expeditiously handling cases of asylum seekers coming to the U.S. across the southern border. The rule proposes to shift adjudication of asylum claims from immigration courts to asylum officers. The new rule would authorize asylum officers to hear the entire asylum case (instead of merely conducting a “credible fear” interview), with the immigration courts acting more in an appellate capacity. The rule is also meant to reduce the immigration court workload, in which there were more than 600,000 pending asylum claims in August 2021. The author argues that asylum officers are better trained to assess asylum claims, and that the new system would bring expeditious relief to those with good asylum claims, while reducing the incentive for those with weak claims to make them and benefit from the lengthy delays in case processing. The author argues that the new rule should be part of a set of policies to better manage the border and the asylum caseload — policies such as universal representation for asylum seekers; a humane repatriation process for those who are not successful with their asylum claim but may still face desperate conditions in their home countries; and working with Central American countries to help bring more order and legality to migration flows. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)

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Meissner, D. (2021, August). Biden Administration Asylum Processing Revamp at the U.S. Border Could Be a Game Changer. Migration Policy Institute.