DHS and DOJ Publish Proposed Rule Allowing Asylum Officers to Fully Adjudicate Cases Previously Assigned to Immigration Judges

On August 18, 2021, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), keeping in line with their goal of a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system, published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”), amending the processing of protection claims. The proposed rule would allow individuals who receive a positive credible fear determination to be further interviewed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) asylum officers, who will hear and decide applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and Convention Against Torture (“CAT”). Normally, these cases are assigned to the Immigration judges within the DOJ’s Executive Office of Immigration Review (“EOIR”).

The Proposed Rule

Under the proposed rule, any individual who establishes a credible fear of removal will be referred to an asylum officer for further hearing on the protection claims. The asylum officer will now be authorized to adjudicate in the first instance requests for asylum as well as eligibility for withholding of removal, or withholding or deferral of removal under the CAT claim. If the asylum officers deny the case, the non-citizen m