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Biden is tweaking an asylum rule to speed up deportation for some migrants

In this file photo, migrants board a plane in Harlingen, Texas, on October 18, 2023 for deportation to Venezuela.
Veronica G. Cardenas
AFP via Getty Images
In this file photo, migrants board a plane in Harlingen, Texas, on October 18, 2023 for deportation to Venezuela.

The Biden administration on Thursday is set to propose a change to asylum rules that could fast-track deportations for some migrants.

It's an incremental shift on one of the biggest issues for voters looking ahead to the presidential election in November. Polls show voters are concerned about large number of migrants and disapprove of the way President Biden has handled the issue.

The incremental change would apply to people viewed as unlikely to be eligible for asylum because they pose national security risks. The proposal would mean they could be deported at an earlier stage of the review process, which sometimes takes years.

The news, first reported by Axios and Politico, was confirmed by a source familiar with the rule, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the change being published on Thursday. The proposal still needs to go through a formal comment period and it will take some time for it to be finalized.

The White House has been considering its options for executive actions since Republicans in Congress backed away from a Senate compromise earlier this year on legislation that would have empowered the administration to turn away migrants seeking asylum when certain thresholds were reached.

Biden had said the legislation would have given him the ability to "shut down the border" and block new asylum claims when the number of migrants outpace the ability of border officials to process them.

There have been some media reports suggesting that Biden may try to implement that measure on his own through an executive order.

But this particular executive action does not go that far – and does not expand or change the rules for who is barred from asylum.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.