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Biden's Slow Progress On Speeding Backlogged Asylum System

Even before the spectacle of a Republican governor flying migrants to a tiny resort island in Massachusetts, President Biden’s top border officials decided there had to be a better asylum system. Because of new global migration patterns, people are heading toward the southern U.S. border, many fleeing instability, persecution, war, famine and economic distress. For the first time, arrests of undocumented immigrants along the southwestern border exceeded two million in one year, the New York Times reports. Venezuelans, Cubans and Nicaraguans are joining others lured by the roaring U.S. job market and the fact that Biden has promised not to separate families, build a wall across the border or force asylum seekers to wait in squalid camps in Mexico — all policies embraced by former President Trump. Biden has no silver bullet to overhaul the immigration system without bipartisan support from Congress, a prospect no one expects soon. The administration has begun to address a small slice of the problem: the woefully backlogged process to decide who qualifies for asylum, or protection from persecution. The goal is to make the system faster, in part by giving asylum officers — not just immigration judges — the power to decide who can stay and who is turned away. Migrants will be interviewed 21 to 45 days after they apply for asylum, far faster than the years it can take in the existing immigration court system. A decision on whether the migrant is granted asylum must come quickly — within two to five weeks of the interview. For now, the changes are tiny; only 99 people since the end of May have completed "asylum merits interviews" with an asylum officer and been fully evaluated under the new rules. Of those, 24 have been granted asylum, while most of the rest have had their cases sent back to the immigration court system for an appeal.

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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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