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Biden’s New Asylum Ruling: A Critical Examination

Posted by Paul Saluja | May 22, 2024


On May 16, 2024, the Biden administration announced the creation of a new expedited docket process to address asylum claims of single adults apprehended at the border after making illegal crossings. This initiative aims to accelerate asylum proceedings, ostensibly to quickly remove those who do not qualify for relief and to protect those who do. However, the underlying implications and potential outcomes of this program warrant a closer examination.

Aims and Execution of the New Docket Process

The newly established process promises to resolve asylum claims within 180 days through the appointment of ten judges operating in key cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. Unlike the existing docket for families, which has been criticized for inefficiency and due process failures, this new program targets single adults and accelerates their proceedings.

However, rather than processing asylum claims at the border, individuals will be released into the U.S. interior to await their hearings. This release strategy raises concerns about its effectiveness and potential consequences.

Critique of the Accelerated Asylum Process

Many critique this initiative as another method to permit more undocumented immigrants into the country, potentially failing to meet its stated objectives. The allure of being released into the country while awaiting an asylum hearing could incentivize further illegal crossings.

Moreover, there are significant challenges in meeting the 180-day decision timeline given the severe backlog in immigration courts. As of the end of fiscal 2023, there were over 3.5 million cases pending, a figure that continues to rise.

Due Process Concerns and Organizational Opposition

Interestingly, the program's reception among immigration advocacy groups has been lukewarm. A coalition of 77 organizations has urged the administration to terminate a similar program for families due to persistent due process failures. Their concerns include:

  • Lack of access to legal representation
  • High rates of in absentia removal orders
  • Hostile treatment by immigration judges
  • Lack of transparency and public access to data

These issues cast doubt on the fairness and efficiency of the new docket process for single adults.

Implications for the Immigration System

The expedited docket, if implemented, could disrupt the already strained immigration court system. Diverting judges to this new program will exacerbate the backlog of existing cases, unfairly delaying proceedings for many asylum seekers who have been waiting for years.

Additionally, the outcomes of accelerated hearings are not necessarily final. Adverse decisions by immigration judges can be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, where delays are inevitable due to the Board's overwhelming caseload.

Potential Policy Pitfalls

The broader implications of releasing single adults into the U.S. interior are significant. Alejandro Mayorkas's Guidelines for the Enforcement of Civil Immigration Law limit enforcement actions to those posing threats to national security, public safety, and border security, effectively shielding many from deportation even after receiving a removal order. This approach has led to a situation where, in fiscal 2023, only a fraction of the over 1.2 million migrants with final deportation orders were actually removed.


While aimed at expediting asylum claims, the program may inadvertently encourage illegal immigration, strain an already burdened court system, and face significant opposition from advocacy groups concerned with due process. Effective border security and immigration reform require addressing these pull factors rather than creating new incentives for illegal crossings. As the program unfolds, its impact on the immigration system and border security will need careful scrutiny and potential adjustments to meet its intended goals without exacerbating existing challenges.

About the Author

Paul Saluja

Paul Saluja is a distinguished legal professional with over two decades of experience serving clients across a spectrum of legal domains. Graduating from West Virginia State University in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry, he continued his academic journey at Ohio Northern University, gr...

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