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Biden Plans Fast Asylum Screening For Migrants, Will Send Troops

President Biden scrapped expedited asylum screenings during his first month in office as part of a gutting of Trump administration border polices that included building a wall with Mexico. Now he is preparing his own version, the Associated Press reports. President Trump’s fast-track reviews drew sharp criticism from internal government watchdog agencies as the percentage of people who passed “credible fear interviews” plummeted. The Biden administration has insisted its speedy screening for asylum-seekers is different: Interviews will be done exclusively by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, not by Border Patrol agents, and everyone will have access to legal counsel. The decision to use fast-track screenings comes as COVID-19 asylum restrictions are set to expire on May 11 and the U.S. government prepares for an expected increase in illegal crossings from Mexico. The Texas border cities of El Paso, Laredo and Brownsville have declared local states of emergency to prepare for the anticipated influx. The Biden administration will send 1,500 troops to the border ahead of an expected migrant surge.


Normally, about three in four migrants pass credible fear interviews, though far fewer eventually win asylum. During the five months of the Trump-era program, only 23% passed the initial screening, while 69% failed and 9% withdrew, according to the Government Accountability Office. Those who get past initial screenings are generally freed in the U.S. to pursue their cases in immigration court, which typically takes four years. Critics say the court backlog encourages more people to seek asylum. To pass screenings, migrants must convince an asylum officer they have a “significant possibility” of prevailing before a judge on arguments that they face persecution in their home countries on grounds of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group. Under the Biden administration’s fast-track program, those who don’t qualify will be deported “in a matter of days or just a few weeks,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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