The Biden Administration through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced proposed rule changes that would restrict seeking asylum. DHS claims the rule will shorten the asylum process. However, the change would specifically target people deemed ineligible under the new rules that bar them from seeking asylum and expedite the deportation process.

The new rule targets an asylum seeker’s right to due process by allowing Asylum Officers to make determinations normally adjudicated in a court.

Noncitizens who present a national security or public safety risk remain in DHS custody while their cases are referred for full immigration hearings before an immigration judge, a process that can take years and is resource intensive,” reads a press release from DHS. “The proposed rule would allow Asylum Officers to issue [a] denial of claims within days after an individual is encountered when there is evidence that the individual is barred from asylum because of terrorism, national security, or criminal bar, thereby significantly shortening the overall time between encounter and removal from the United States.”

The issue is that many asylum-seekers are often wrongly classified as gang members or are listed on the terror watch list for no justifiable reason. The right to due process either affirms whether these migrants are an actual threat and not a perceived one based on what Border Agents, who are not qualified, determine. U.S. Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens is notorious for this on social media. He regularly posts images of migrants claiming they’re gang-affiliated.

Owens highlights major discriminatory practices at the border that are rarely investigated by mainstream media. Despite complaints of racism by former border agents and asylum seekers, DHS assures the public that it is not an issue even though the public has seen it for decades. From denying migrants water and agents on horseback charging at migrants to housing them in outdoor encampments and ice-cold holding facilities, it’s certainly an issue.

“Today, USCIS issued revised guidance to Asylum Officers to consider whether an asylum seeker could reasonably relocate to another part of the country of feared persecution when assessing claims of future persecution in all credible fear cases,” reads the DHS press release. “Internal relocation has always been a part of an analysis of future claims of harm, and this new guidance, consistent with the [Circumvention of Lawful Pathways] rule, will ensure early identification and removal of individuals who would ultimately be found ineligible for protection because of their ability to remain safe by relocating elsewhere in the country from which they fled.”

While the rule sounds good on paper, assigning critical decisions to agents who are often not adequately trained to make those decisions puts migrants at greater risk. Historically, making asylum harder to seek has led to more deaths at the border. And with an agency that is never held to account that routinely beats migrants and migrant children and laughs at their deaths, this rule change does not bode well for migrants’ human rights.

“We cannot continue repeating failed policies,” said Marisa Limón Garza, Executive Director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, in El Paso, Texas, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and New Mexico via an emailed statement. Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center has provided legal services to low-income immigrants serving close to 70,000 persons, with a strong focus on women, children, families, the LGBTQ community, and asylum seekers.

Our 37 years of experience at the southern border tells us that policies like the asylum ban only drive individuals towards dangerous routes, often guided by criminals who exploit them,” said Garza. “Now is the time to ensure people seeking asylum have a safe pathway independent of a smartphone application, CBPOne, responsive to the needs of the diverse populations moving north. To accomplish this, the Biden administration must end its heinous asylum ban immediately and move away from piecemeal efforts to impose further restrictions. We cannot continue repeating failed policies and expecting different results.”

DHS published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register. As part of the process, the public is invited to submit comments on the NPRM during the 30-day public comment period from May 13 to June 12, 2024.

Read the full NPRM


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Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.

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