U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that
the agency will schedule asylum interviews for recent applications ahead of older
filings, in an attempt to stem the growth of the agencys asylum backlog.

USCIS is responsible for overseeing the nations legal immigration system, which
includes adjudicating asylum claims. The agency currently faces a crisis-level
backlog of 311,000 pending asylum cases as of Jan. 21, 2018, making the asylum
system increasingly vulnerable to fraud and abuse. This backlog has grown by more
than 1750 percent over the last five years, and the rate of new asylum applications
has more than tripled.

To address this problem, USCIS will follow these priorities when scheduling
affirmative asylum interviews:

* Applications that were scheduled for an interview, but the interview had to be
rescheduled at the applicants request or the needs of USCIS;
* Applications pending 21 days or less since filing; and
* All other pending applications, starting with newer filings and working back
toward older filings.

Additionally, the Affirmative Asylum Bulletin issued by USCIS has been discontinued.

Delays in the timely processing of asylum applications are detrimental to legitimate
asylum seekers, said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. Lingering backlogs can be
exploited and used to undermine national security and the integrity of the asylum
system.

This priority approach, first established by the asylum reforms of 1995 and used for
20 years until 2014, seeks to deter those who might try to use the existing backlog
as a means to obtain employment authorization. Returning to a last in, first out
interview schedule will allow USCIS to identify frivolous, fraudulent or otherwise
non-meritorious asylum claims earlier and place those individuals into removal
proceedings.

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