The Biden administration will release a plan to weigh migrants’ asylum claims on Tuesday, a day after saying families who do not qualify after an initial screening at the U.S.-Mexico border will be deported.
Migrant families who are not expelled to Mexico under current pandemic-related restrictions will be placed in "expedited removal" proceedings, the Department of Homeland Security announced late Monday, The New York Times reported.
Expedited removal, a policy used by past Democrat and Republican administrations, gives asylum officers a fast-tracked screening process to determine if families have a "credible fear of persecution," the Times said.
A 21-point plan to be announced Tuesday calls for asylum officers to have full authority to rule on asylum claims, NBC News reported. The White House aims to send asylum cases that do go to court — where there's a backlog of more than 1.2 million cases — to a dedicated docket so they are given priority.
Border Patrol agents last month encountered 188,800 people, the highest monthly number in at least a decade. That brought to one million the number of border apprehensions in the first nine months of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
Agents apprehended 55,805 family members and 15,253 unaccompanied minors in June, up from 44,639 and 14,158 in May, the Times reported. Just 14% of the families intercepted in June were expelled under public health order Title 42, which was invoked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March 2020 to quickly expel border-crossers to Mexico or their home countries.
"Expedited removal provides a lawful, more accelerated procedure to remove those family units who do not have a basis under U.S. law to be in the United States," DHS said in a statement.
"Attempting to cross into the United States between ports of entry, or circumventing inspection at ports of entry, is the wrong way to come to the United States. These acts are dangerous and can carry long-term immigration consequences for individuals who attempt to do so."
The administration has declined to use Title 42 to expel unaccompanied children but has has used it for adults and families, who then are expelled without a court hearing or an asylum screening.
Monday's announcement angered immigrant advocacy groups.
"Jamming desperate families through an expedited asylum process would deny them the most basic due process protections and can hardly be called humane," Lee Gelernt, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Times.
The ACLU has sued the government to end the use of Title 42. The administration’s new plan did not say when the COVID-19 policy might be lifted, NBC News said.
U.S. officials told CBS News the expulsions of families have been hindered by Mexico's refusal to accept non-Central American families and those with young children.
Thousands of families Mexico refused to allow back into the country have been processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and released to shelters in the U.S. The migrants are told to check in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement or appear in immigration court for a hearing. They are allowed to remain in the country while their cases are adjudicated.
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