Immigration Weekly Round-Up: Major Shake-Ups in U.S. Asylum Law; Congress Weighs Adding Business Visas

U.S. to Change Asylum Procedures, Also Admit 100,000 Refugees from Ukraine

This week, the Biden Administration issued a new rule that will allow for asylum officers at the U.S.-Mexico border to adjudicate claims for protection from removal made by immigrants who fear persecution in their home country. The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) explained that this rule was part of an effort to shorten the time between a noncitizen’s arrival at the border and a decision on whether that person will be able to remain in the United States. 

This new policy would constitute a dramatic shift in how asylum applications are adjudicated. Currently, the vast majority of cases are processed by immigration judges in court. Under the new rule, if an asylum officer grants protections to an immigrant, the immigrant is allowed to remain in the U.S. However, if an immigrant is deemed not eligible for asylum, the case will be to an immigration judge for further review, but the case must be decided within 90 days. 

When the rule was first proposed in August last year, many immigration advocates expressed reservations, particularly concerned about rushing immigrants through their asylum applications and denying due process. Eleanor Acer, a senior director at Human Rights First