The Biden administration has opened up a fast lane for illegal immigrants.
The Department of Justice and Homeland Security announced Friday that it will be creating what is called a Dedicated Docket program that is designed to reduce the time illegal immigrant families have to wait to have their cases heard before an immigration judge, according to a Department of Justice news release.
The release frames the project as targeting “families who arrive between ports of entry at the Southwest Border,” without any reference to their illegal status.
“Families arriving at the border who are placed in immigration proceedings should have their cases decided in an orderly, efficient, and fair manner,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.
“Families who have recently arrived should not languish in a multi-year backlog; today’s announcement is an important step for both justice and border security,” he said.
The immigration court system currently has about 1.3 million pending cases, according to PBS.
“The mission of the Department of Justice’s immigration courts is to decide the cases that come before them promptly and fairly,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “This new program for certain newly arriving families will help achieve that critically important goal.”
The Department of Justice will focus the program on ten cities it says has the capacity to host the program: Denver, Detroit, El Paso, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.
The program’s goal is to issue a decision on an asylum claim within 300 days.
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However, the program does not address the issue of whether those who have cases pending will actually show up.
The Center for Immigration Studies reported in February 2020 that 70 percent of the cases in immigration courts between September 2019 and January 2020 resulted in what is called in absentia orders for removal when the illegal immigrants never showed up.
The new Biden administration policy comes amid a surge of illegal immigrants entering America.
Customs and Border Protection data shows that in April, there were 172,000 encounters with illegal immigrants entering the country along the Southern Border.
The National Association of Immigration Judges is studying the plan, said Dana Marks, an immigration judge and the group’s executive vice president.
The group was not consulted about the plan, she said.
The National Immigrant Justice Center opposed the proposal.
A statement from Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy said the group “condemns the Biden administration’s plan to force families who arrive in the United States seeking asylum to go through expedited court proceedings that will rob them of basic due process protections, including the opportunity to obtain adequate legal counsel or to fully prepare their cases.”
“Prior administrations’ reliance on so-called ‘dedicated dockets’ has resulted in thousands of families navigating the asylum system alone, without a fair opportunity to present their stories to immigration judges who will decide whether to allow them to remain in the United States or deport them to the violence or persecution they fled. Returning to this failed policy directly contradicts the Biden administration’s purported goals of improving access to justice and racial equity in U.S. justice systems,” she said.