Empowering Asylum Officials: U.S. to Expand Authority for Early Rejection of Migrants 2024-05-21 03:58:16

The Biden administration is gearing up to unveil a pivotal regulatory shift as soon as Thursday, aimed at bolstering the authority of immigration officials to swiftly deport migrants deemed ineligible for asylum in the United States, sources familiar with the internal discussions informed CBS News. Crafted by the Department of Homeland Security, the forthcoming regulation targets migrants who request asylum subsequent to unlawfully crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, insiders disclosed on condition of anonymity prior to the official announcement. Under this measure, government asylum officers would be directed to apply existing legal barriers to asylum during the initial credible fear interviews—a critical juncture in the protracted asylum process. Success in these interviews affords migrants the opportunity to pursue asylum before an immigration judge, whereas failure renders them subject to expedited deportation. Categories of migrants ineligible for asylum, as outlined in U.S. law, encompass individuals deemed potential threats to public safety or national security. The envisaged rule empowers officials to promptly reject and deport migrants falling within these categories upon border entry. Though relatively circumscribed in scope, the regulation forms part of a suite of measures under consideration by the Biden administration to curtail access to the U.S. asylum system, amid a surge in applications in recent years, primarily attributed to illegal border crossings. Requests for comment from the Department of Homeland Security and the White House remained unanswered at the time of reporting. Concurrently, President Biden is mulling over the invocation of a sweeping presidential prerogative, known as 212(f), to institute a broader asylum restriction ahead of the November election, sources familiar with the deliberations divulged to CBS News. This authority enables presidents to bar the entry of migrants whose arrival is deemed detrimental to U.S. interests. Former President Donald Trump wielded this law to justify various immigration curbs, including a travel ban targeting predominantly Muslim countries. However, a final decision on the 212(f) order, contemplated for several months, is yet to be announced by President Biden. While the imminent regulation is not anticipated to impact a significant volume of migrants, it underscores a policy recalibration by President Biden, who had earlier pledged to "restore" the U.S. asylum system during his presidency.

Following unprecedented levels of migrant apprehensions along the southern border, surpassing 2 million in each of the past two years, and amidst a corresponding political uproar, the Biden administration has responded with a series of more stringent asylum measures. Last year saw the introduction of a regulation disqualifying migrants from asylum if they entered the U.S. unlawfully after failing to seek humanitarian protection in a third country, such as Mexico. This restriction has been accompanied by an unparalleled expansion of legal pathways for prospective migrants to enter the U.S. These initiatives include a mobile application enabling migrants in Mexico to schedule processing appointments at official border crossings, as well as a program facilitating air travel to the U.S. for certain migrants with American sponsors.

Following a peak in December, illegal border crossings have plummeted by over 40% this year, with April witnessing approximately 129,000 such crossings, marking the second consecutive monthly decline, as per internal Border Patrol data obtained by CBS News. U.S. authorities attribute this dramatic reduction in migration to heightened deportation efforts and increased interventions by Mexico to deter migrants from reaching the American border. Texas state officials also lay claim to contributing to the decline in crossings through their initiatives, including the deployment of miles of razor wire along border stretches.

Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News' immigration reporter based in Washington, focuses on covering immigration policy and politics.

In conclusion, the Biden administration's response to the surge in migrant apprehensions along the southern border has been characterized by a combination of restrictive asylum measures and efforts to expand legal pathways for migration. While the introduction of regulations aimed at disqualifying certain migrants from asylum eligibility reflects a tightening of immigration policy, initiatives such as the mobile application for scheduling border processing appointments and sponsorship programs for air travel signify a commitment to providing alternative avenues for lawful entry into the United States. The notable decline in illegal border crossings, attributed to increased enforcement measures and interventions by both U.S. and Mexican authorities, underscores the evolving landscape of immigration policy and the multifaceted strategies employed to manage migration flows.


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