Biden to tighten national security, public safety asylum screenings

The Biden administration on Thursday will announce new measures to more quickly screen asylum applicants for potential public safety or national security risks.

The proposed regulation will essentially move up those screenings to an earlier stage in the asylum process, increasing the chances that migrants who do pose a potential threat would be quickly removed from the country.

The regulation will still need to go through a public comment period — it won’t be the administration’s expected big executive move on immigration, according to a source familiar with deliberations.

The proposal, first reported by Politico, would increase the consequences of the initial asylum screening.

Under current rules, in-depth background checks are left to the interview stage, after migrants have already declared their intent to seek asylum, and U.S. asylum officers have determined they fulfill the basic requirements to qualify.

Under the new proposal, those asylum officers would determine both initial eligibility and the risk of potential threats presented by individuals.

The proposal is part of an expected package of executive actions the Biden administration is considering in lieu of the failed bipartisan border bill, which would have implemented much more stringent restrictions on asylum.

The Biden administration is also said to be considering executive actions to make it easier for longtime undocumented immigrants to regularize their status, particularly if they are close family members of U.S. citizens.

Democrats are pulling the Biden administration in both directions. On Tuesday a group of battleground district Democrats called for border-centric enforcement solutions, while on Wednesday members of the Congressional Hispanic and Progressive caucuses called for relief for undocumented residents.

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