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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.

Go deeper

Mexico welcomes escaping Afghans as Kabul evacuations ramp up

Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard with the members of the Afghan women’s robotics team, who arrived in Mexico City from Qatar. Photo: Secretary of Foreign Relations in Mexico

Mexico is expediting documents to welcome Afghans, as the evacuations from Kabul ramp up before the Aug. 31 deadline for full U.S. withdrawal.

Details: Five members of the Afghan women’s robotics team landed Tuesday night in Mexico City, where they will have the option of seeking asylum.

Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to Parkland school shooting

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz at the defense table during jury selection at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Oct. 6, 2021. Photo: Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Nikolas Cruz on Wednesday pleaded guilty on all counts for carrying out the 2018 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead, including 14 students and three staff members.

Driving the news: Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty at a hearing on Wednesday to 17 murder counts and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for carrying out the deadly shooting.

2 hours ago - Health

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of five and 11, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies, to administer the shots.