The Florence Project has serious concerns about the Biden administration’s plan to employ so-called “dedicated dockets” to expedite the adjudication of asylum claims for newly arriving families. While on the surface the goal of timely processing of asylum claims may sound positive, in reality these expedited dockets have a long history of blocking due process and adding to immigration court backlogs.
Both the Obama and Trump administrations used so-called dedicated dockets, or rocket dockets, to try to mitigate backlogs in immigration courts. In both these cases, these dockets not only failed to clear backlogs, but also in fact led to widespread violations of immigrants’ due process rights, undermined access to legal counsel, and in all likelihood, resulted in unjust deportations. Most people seeking immigration relief in the U.S. still don’t have access to legal counsel and programs like this will only exacerbate that inequity.
Additionally, it is disappointing that the Biden administration has chosen to move forward with these tired, ineffective programs before fulfilling campaign promises to roll back Trump era immigration policies, many of which specifically sought to undermine a functioning asylum system. In many respects, the Biden administration is either continuing illegal, inhumane Trump-era policies or moving the immigration system backward. This administration continues to expel migrants under rapid removal processes, such as the Title 42 border closure and apply Trump era attorney general decisions that significantly hamper many asylum-seeking families’ ability to request protection. Implementing a rocket docket that forces families through an expedited process while these unlawful policies remain in place is not only unjust, it is inhumane.
We call on the Biden administration to move quickly to reverse all Trump-era immigration policies and to shift away from the deterrence, detention, and deportation paradigm that the U.S. immigration system has relied for decades and toward a reformed system which welcomes all immigrants with dignity.