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Biden administration proposes rule that would rapidly reject migrants who are ineligible for asylum

The Biden administration on Thursday proposed a rule that would allow immigration officials to rapidly reject migrants who are ineligible for asylum, casting the new regulation as a measure to enhance border security.

The proposed rule, which is narrow in scope, doesn’t change asylum eligibility but would allow immigration officials to more quickly remove migrants who are ineligible for asylum earlier in the asylum process.

“The proposed rule we have published today is yet another step in our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of the American public by more quickly identifying and removing those individuals who present a security risk and have no legal basis to remain here,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Thursday.

The move comes as the White House has tried to toughen its position on the US-Mexico border and flip the script on Republicans who continue to hammer President Joe Biden on immigration ahead of the November election.

Asylum officers, under the proposed rule, would be able to reject asylum claims within days of a migrant being encountered when there is evidence that they pose a national security or public safety risk. Under current procedures, that often happens later in the process.

The department also announced Thursday that asylum officers would need to consider whether an asylum seeker could “reasonably relocate to another part of the country of feared persecution when assessing claims” under revised guidance.

“We’ve taken a series of measures to expand our use of executive authority and resources in order to address what we are seeing on our border and really, throughout the whole hemisphere,” a senior Homeland Security official told reporters, citing congressional inaction.

The rule, which will be published Monday, still needs to go through a public comment period before taking effect later this year, according to the senior DHS official.

Politico first reported on the proposed changes.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut acknowledged ahead of the announcement that the administration was pursuing asylum changes, but noted that without legislation, making full scale changes to the asylum system is incredibly difficult.

Murphy told reporters Wednesday he’s been engaged with the administration on the policies under review, but noted fuller scale changes that Republicans want Biden to make risk being challenged in court.

Senate Democrats are going to keep pushing for the failed bipartisan immigration bill to get more GOP support, Murphy said, adding that at this point, it’s not clear the measure would get another vote.

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