The Biden administration this week will begin using an overhauled system for screening migrants seeking humanitarian protection along the southern border, relying more on asylum officers instead of immigration judges to help determine who gets to stay in the U.S. the Washington Post reports. The changes are expected to reduce court backlogs and make it easier for authorities to deport those who don't qualify for protection. The system is starting Tuesday at two immigration detention centers in Texas. Officers are expected to process several hundred cases monthly during the initial phase. Biden officials describe the "asylum officer rule" as their most significant border policy initiative to date. The system is expected to work faster without sacrificing fairness because claims rejected by asylum officers will be reviewed by immigration judges as a safeguard. Opponents are trying to block the change in Congress and federal courts, after winning a series of victories against President Biden's other border policy initiatives.
After Republican senators fell short of stopping the policy from taking effect, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit, alleging that the policy will accelerate illegal immigration. The case is pending at the Supreme Court. The new asylum screening procedures will apply to single adults as well as family groups who are facing "expedited" deportation proceedings and applying for protection. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials will decide on a case-by-case basis whether to refer the applicant to an asylum officer for what the administration describes as a "non-adversarial screening" interview. Applicants who are rejected during screening by an asylum officer will have their cases reviewed by an immigration judge and will retain the right of appeal. These changes can still ease the burden on immigration judges and resolve asylum claims faster than the current system because rejected applications will reach the courts at a more advanced stage.