In a key step toward implementing the Administration’s blueprint for a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) are publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would amend current regulations to improve the processing of asylum claims. The proposed rule would allow, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officers to hear and decide applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and Convention Against Torture (CAT) protection for individuals who receive a positive credible fear determination. These cases are currently assigned to immigration judges within DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.
Under the proposed process, an individual who establishes a credible fear of removal will be referred to a USCIS asylum officer for a hearing on the protection claims. The asylum officer will be authorized to adjudicate in the first instance requests for asylum, as well as eligibility for statutory withholding of removal or for withholding or deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture. In a denied case, the individual may request de novo administrative review by an immigration judge under a streamlined process, with further administrative appeal available through the Board of Immigration Appeals.