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Biden Administration Plans to Clear Low-Priority Immigration Cases

New York immigration case

Help With Your New York immigration Case

If you have a New York immigration case that has been pending in the immigration court for a long time, you might be interested in learning about the latest effort from the Biden Administration to clear the backlog in the court dockets. Currently, undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. to request asylum and were allowed to wait inside of the U.S. have waited for years before their court dates. The Biden Administration recently announced a plan to clear low-level asylum and deportation cases from the court dockets, meaning many people with low priority cases might have theirs administratively closed. The immigration lawyers at Oltarsh & Associates can help you understand what this might mean for you.

Effort to Clear Immigration Cases

Currently, there is a backlog of pending asylum and deportation cases of 1.7 million, and it would take years for all of those cases to make it through the immigration court system. At the same time, the Biden Administration has announced that Title 42 will end at the end of May since the Centers for Disease Control no longer believes it is necessary to curb the introduction of COVID-19 into the U.S. When Title 42 is lifted, immigrants who have been waiting in Mexico to enter the U.S. will no longer be sent back over the border but can instead request asylum and wait in the U.S. for their cases to be heard. The Biden Administration expects a flood of immigrants to come into the U.S. once Title 42 is lifted, which will greatly increase the number of cases waiting on immigration court dockets across the country.

To help reduce the immigration backlog, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a memo on April 3, directing its immigration prosecutors to review cases and clear those that are considered to be of a low enforcement priority. Currently, low-priority cases are estimated to make up approximately 40% of the cases comprising the backlog or around 700,000 cases.

Clearing a case from the docket will mean that it will be administratively closed. If the government clears all of the cases estimated to be of a low priority, it would be the largest movement of cases off of the immigration court docket of any prior administration. For example, during the Obama Administration, 166,000 immigration cases were administratively closed over Obama’s eight years in office.

Why the Backlog Has Grown

The backlog is currently at its largest ever for several reasons. It has created long delays for immigrants who are seeking relief. The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the backlog because of delays in court proceedings. Many cases were also added to the backlog during the Trump administration when many undocumented immigrants entered the U.S. in 2019. The Trump administration also reopened 34,000 administratively closed cases and put them back on the immigration court dockets. While administratively closed cases can be placed back on the docket at any time, most remain closed for years.

Enforcement Priorities

According to ICE, the administration has prioritized cases involving threats to public safety or national security and those involving immigrants who recently entered the U.S. without documentation for enforcement. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that the agency’s enforcement lawyers will focus on those priorities and clear low-priority cases from the docket. The agency has previously directed some people with family immigration cases to apply through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) instead of going through the immigration courts since the process with USCIS takes less time.

The Biden Administration previously announced an asylum policy under which undocumented immigrants crossing the border will be evaluated by asylum officers rather than immigration judges. However, that policy is not expected to be operational for several months. Undocumented people are expected to request asylum before an immigration law judge within 12 months of their arrival. However, people who are not detained and are provided a summons typically wait for five or more years before they appear in court. Some people have also been released into the U.S. without court dates and have been told to complete the paperwork at a later time.

Get Help from a New York Immigration Lawyer at Oltarsh & Associates

If you have a New York immigration case pending in the immigration courts, you should speak to an experienced New York immigration lawyer at Oltarsh & Associates about how the Biden administration’s new plan might affect your case and learn about other options for securing immigration relief. We have years of experience helping people to achieve favorable resolutions to their immigration law matters. Call us today to request a consultation at (212) 944-9420.

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