On March 24, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) jointly issued a statement indicating that they are taking administrative steps to expedite the processing of asylum claims filed by non-citizens in expedited removal proceedings, so that those eligible for asylum are expeditiously met and the remainder are expeditiously removed.

This resolution takes effect on May 31, 2022. This article specifies the content of the rule and details the conditions of its application.

The content of the rule

The rule authorizes asylum officers within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to consider the asylum claims of individuals subject to expedited removal who assert a fear of persecution or torture and pass the required credible fear test. Currently, these cases are decided only by immigration judges in the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

The impact of the rule

Due to existing judicial backlogs, the process of hearing and deciding these asylum claims currently takes several years on average. When fully implemented, the reforms and new efficiencies will shorten the process to several months for most asylum seekers covered by this rule.

The rule cuts out the middleman of U.S. immigration judges, who generally decide who can remain in the running for asylum. The rule was able to move forward because USCIS was part of the larger DHS.

What does DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas say about efficient and fair processing of asylum claims?

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas believes that asylum processing at U.S. borders needs to be reformed.

The current system for processing asylum claims at our borders is long overdue for repair,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “With this rule, we are building a more functional and sensible asylum system to ensure that those who are eligible will receive protection more quickly, while those who are not eligible will be quickly deported.

We will process applications for asylum or other humanitarian protection in a timely and efficient manner while ensuring due process.”

In summary, the Secretary believes that this rule will help asylum seekers who are found eligible to be accepted more quickly and expeditiously.  In contrast, those who are not eligible should be deported as quickly as possible.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s view of the rule

It should be remembered that prior to this new rule, asylum seekers had to wait several years for their cases to be heard and decided.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland welcomed the new rule, stating that it will ease the burden on immigration courts and provide swift protection for those fleeing persecution and violence. He also mentioned that the new rule will allow immigration judges to issue removal orders if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are cases filed by non-citizens currently processed?

Asylum officers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are authorized to process cases filed by non-citizens who claim to be fleeing torture or persecution, who have passed the credible fear test, and who are subject to expedited removal.

At this time, the only judges with jurisdiction over these cases are the immigrant judges in the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

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