May 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden administration to expedite immigration cases of undocumented families

Picture of Merrick Garland and alejandro Mayorkas
Merrick Garland (left) and Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Justice and Homeland Security departments on Friday announced plans to fast-track cases of families arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in immigration court.

The state of play: Families that are stopped at the border beginning Friday will be placed in a "dedicated docket" process, aimed at expediting proceedings to determine whether they can remain in the U.S. These cases are known for getting backlogged and taking years to reach a conclusion.

  • Under the new process, immigration courts will work to make a decision within 300 days of an initial hearing in 10 cities: Denver, Detroit, El Paso, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.  

What they're saying: "Families arriving at the border who are placed in immigration proceedings should have their cases decided in an orderly, efficient, and fair manner. Families who have recently arrived should not languish in a multi-year backlog," said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

  • "The mission of the Department of Justice’s immigration courts is to decide the cases that come before them promptly and fairly. This new program for certain newly arriving families will help achieve that critically important goal," said Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The big picture: The guidance comes as President Biden faces pressure to lift restrictions set by the Trump administration that required people at the border from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to be expelled to Mexico "within two hours without any opportunity to seek asylum or other humanitarian protections," AP writes.

Flashback: The Trump and Obama administrations created similar programs to expedite immigration cases, per AP.

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