The US has opened a new immigration court: it will significantly speed up the processing of asylum cases - ForumDaily
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The US has opened a new immigration court: it will significantly speed up the processing of asylum cases

The Biden administration said May 16 that new fast-track processing of cases in immigration courts will reduce the time it takes to decide asylum claims. Some single applicants will receive a decision within months rather than years, reports APNews.

Refugee man standing behind the fence at sunrise

Photo: iStock.com/ozgurdonmaz

Migrants, settled in five cities (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York) will be placed on the “recent arrivals list.” Judges will rule on their applications within 180 days, compared to the current four years.

The Department of Justice involved 10 judges in this work. Authorities said they don't know how many cases they have to deal with. This makes it difficult to assess the potential impact.

“This administrative action does not replace the sweeping and much-needed changes that the bipartisan Senate bill will make. We will now do everything we can to most effectively enforce the law and discourage illegal migration,” said Department of Homeland Security Commissioner Alejandro Mayorkas.

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Authorities said the five cities were chosen because judges there were able to hear cases and because they were popular destinations for migrants.

Attempts to solve the timing problem

Asylum seekers are entitled to a work permit within six months of arrival. This, critics say, is an incentive for migrants to come to the US even if they have no reason to do so. The longer they have been in the United States and have family or community ties, the greater the opposition to sending them back to their home country.

The administration has tried for years to move as many new arrivals as possible into the queue for asylum decisions. This would help deport ineligible applicants within months rather than years. The Obama and Trump administrations have tried to speed up some cases since 2014.

In 2021, the Biden administration introduced a “special list” for families seeking asylum in 10 cities. Their cases were to be heard in court within 300 days.

In 2022, the Biden administration unveiled a plan in which asylum officers, rather than immigration judges, would rule on a limited number of family cases in nine cities.

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Immigration labor judge spokesman Matt Biggs said he was waiting to learn about the scope of the latest effort and how it would impact caseloads.

He noted that this could undermine the right to a fair trial.

“I hope the Biden administration has learned from past mistakes,” Biggs said.

The backlog of cases in immigration courts has risen to 3,6 million. It must be said that there are about 68 judges in 600 courts, and the new plan will not include money to increase the number of judges.

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