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Biden administration to propose new rule for asylum-seekers

The regulation, which had been in the works for months and will be published by the Department of Homeland Security, seeks to cut down on illegal border crossings.
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The Biden administration is expected to propose a rule Thursday that would accelerate the pace at which certain migrants could be processed and denied asylum after having crossing the southern border, according to two sources familiar with the decision.

The regulation, which had been in the works for months and will be published by the Department of Homeland Security, seeks to cut down on illegal border crossings. It would specifically target people who are deemed ineligible for asylum because of criminal records or who are assessed to be national security risks, one of the sources said. 

The asylum process sometimes can take years, and the proposed rule will aim to shorten that time substantially for those deemed ineligible.

Migrants cross through a barbed-wire fence.
Migrants cross into the United States from Mexico on May 8, 2023 in El Paso, Texas.John Moore / Getty Images

It is not considered the major executive action NBC News has been previewing for months, which could still materialize in the near term.

The White House declined to comment.

As the Biden administration weighs more sweeping executive action on the border that could affect the asylum process, up Pennsylvania Avenue, Senate Democrats had an initial closed-door conversation Wednesday about what legislative steps they could take.

“I think the starting point for the discussion is the bipartisan deal that was negotiated, so we’ll start there. Do we subtract a little bit, do we add a little bit? We don’t know yet,” Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., told NBC News after the meeting. “Everybody realizes we are going to have a meaningful discussion about it in the coming weeks.”

NBC News reported Monday that Democrats in the Senate could force “messaging” votes on immigration and border-related provisions that Republicans would most likely block.

Republicans blocked the bipartisan package negotiated by Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., in February at the behest of former President Donald Trump. 

But asked about the administration’s actions during his leadership news conference Wednesday, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the Biden administration and congressional Democrats “agree” that “the best thing to deal with the problem on the border is pass legislation.”

“We have strong bipartisan drafted legislation,” Schumer said. “If Republicans are serious about fixing the border, join us — we can only pass it with Republican votes, Democratic votes and Republican votes, and that’s what we should do.”

Senators threw out ideas during the closed-door meeting Wednesday, according to multiple Democrats who spoke with NBC News. 

Earlier Wednesday, a collection of progressive and Hispanic lawmakers urged Biden to use his executive authority to streamline pathways to citizenship for long-term, undocumented immigrants and expressed concerns with the administration’s potential plans to restrict some asylum through unilateral action.

“As the Biden administration considers executive actions on immigration, we must not return to failed Trump-era policies aimed at banning asylum and moving us backward,” Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., said at a news conference. “I urge President Biden to embrace our values as a nation of immigrants and use this opportunity to instead provide relief for the long-term immigrants of this nation.”

An NBC News poll released last month found that just 28% of voters approve of Biden’s handling of border security and immigration, an issue that consistently polls as a top concern for Americans.