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Biden Attempts to Give More Power to Asylum Officers at the Border before Election

Posted by Hugo R. Valverde, Managing Attorney, and Anna D. Colby, Attorney Social Media Marketing Manager | May 30, 2024 | 0 Comments

Photo by Matt Barnard on Pexels

Immigration reform is something almost everyone in the U.S. agrees that our country needs. What that looks like is something people don't seem to agree on. 

In an election year where candidates are trying to set themselves apart from each other, President Biden seems to be taking a move from the former Trump Administration. This May, the Biden Administration announced that it has proposed a rule to give asylum officers at the U.S. border the authority to decide whether or not someone may enter the United States to seek asylum. This proposed rule is worrisome to immigration advocates because the decision of whether someone can obtain asylum or not is typically brought before an immigration judge after entering the border. 

What is Asylum?

Asylum is “a form of protection granted to individuals who can demonstrate that they are unable or unwilling to return to their country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution” on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. 

For many decades now, it has been law that people have the right to appear at the U.S. border and request to seek asylum. As you likely have seen in the news for several years, the U.S./Mexico border has been overwhelmed with asylum seekers, and the President has been trying to figure out how to reduce that number. With this new proposed rule, asylum officers at the border would have the discretionary authority to deport someone at the border if they appear to be subject to a mandatory bar to asylum. 

What's a Mandatory Bar?

If someone has a mandatory bar to asylum it means that they are ineligible for asylum because of an action they have done or are doing, or appear to be in danger of doing in the future. To be found ineligible for asylum, at least one of the mandatory bars must be met:

The person has:

  1. Previously been convicted of a particularly serious crime;

  2. Participated in persecution of others;

  3. Committed a serious crime abroad;

  4. Poses a threat to national security; or

  5. Engaged in terrorist-related activity.

Under the proposed rule, if an asylum seeker appears to be subject to one of the mandatory bars, the asylum officer may swifty deport them and not allow them to file an asylum petition in U.S. immigration court. 

The Biden Administration is proposing this rule in an effort to not waste USCIS and immigration court resources for asylum seekers whose cases are processing. Currently asylum cases pending in immigration court take over four years to process before a decision is reached. While we agree this timeline needs changing, immigration advocates and immigration law firms like ours are in agreement that President Biden's proposal is not the way to change things. Asylum seekers should have their legally protected right to seek asylum proceed in a way where it can be given the time and attention it deserves, not a rushed interview at the border to determine if someone's experiences are valid. 

The good news is that the Biden Administration's proposal is not final. Public comments are being sought so that immigration professionals and the public alike can share their opinions on why the rule should or should not become law. You can submit your comment for a limited time by clicking here.

If you would like assistance with an immigration petition, you can reach us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.

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