Biden Administration Ramps up Efforts to Expedite Court Proceedings for Asylum Seekers at Southwest Border


The Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department recently announced a new plan to expedite immigration court proceedings for asylum seekers who have recently arrived in the United States without lawful status.

On May 16th senior administration officials from the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department made it known to the public that a new Recent Arrivals (RA) docket process will allow undocumented immigrants to resolve their immigration cases more expeditiously – within a period of 180 days.

Under the RA Docket process, DHS will place certain noncitizen single adults on the RA Docket, and EOIR adjudicators will prioritize the adjudication of these cases.

The RA Docket will operate in five cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. Immigration judges will aim to render final decisions within 180 days, although the time to make a decision in any particular case will remain subject to case-specific circumstances and procedural protections, including allowing time for noncitizens to seek representation where needed.

According to the government, this process will allow immigration proceedings to occur more swiftly including the removal of those who do not have a legal basis to remain in the United States, while providing faster relief to those with valid asylum and other immigration claims.

To align with this policy, the Justice Department has submitted a final rule in the Federal Register to promote efficient case and docket management in immigration proceedings entitled, “Efficient Case and Docket Management in Immigration Proceedings.”

The rule codifies procedures and standards for immigration adjudicators across the country to manage their dockets and resolve cases efficiently. It also allows adjudicators to prioritize cases that are ready to be resolved promptly, enabling them to address their caseloads more efficiently and quickly.

In support of this policy, the Secretary of Homeland Secure Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement, “Today, we are instituting with the Department of Justice a process to accelerate asylum proceedings so that individuals who do not qualify for relief can be removed more quickly and those who do qualify can achieve protection sooner.”

He added, “This administrative step is no substitute for the sweeping and much-needed changes that the bipartisan Senate bill would deliver, but in the absence of Congressional action we will do what we can to most effectively enforce the law and discourage irregular migration.”

This is a positive development for noncitizens arriving at the southwest border who typically wait years before receiving a final decision in an immigration court proceeding. Now for most individuals,’ cases will be resolved within a period of 180 days.

Despite these positive changes, it is necessary for Congress to pass border security legislation to provide critical resources that better address the immigration crisis such as the appointment of additional immigration judges, asylum officers and support staff, that can adjudicate the asylum cases of those arriving at our border more quickly thereby providing adequate protections for those with valid claims, and removing those with no lawful basis to remain in the county.

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