Implementing Bilateral and Multilateral Asylum Cooperative Agreements Under the Immigration and Nationality Act
The Department of Justice (``DOJ'') and the Department of Homeland Security (``DHS'') (collectively, ``the Departments'') are adopting an interim final rule (``IFR'' or ``rule'') to modify existing regulations to provide for the implementation of Asylum Cooperative Agreements (``ACAs'') that the United States enters into pursuant to section 208(a)(2)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (``INA'' or ``Act''). Because the underlying purpose of section 208(a)(2)(A) is to provide asylum seekers with access to only one of the ACA signatory countries' protection systems, this rule adopts a modified approach to the expedited removal (``ER'') and section 240 processes in the form of a threshold screening as to which country will consider the alien's claim. This rule will apply to all ACAs in force between the United States and countries other than Canada, including bilateral ACAs recently entered into with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in an effort to share the distribution of hundreds of thousands of asylum claims. The rule will apply only prospectively to aliens who arrive at a U.S. port of entry, or enter or attempt to enter the United States between ports of entry, on or after the effective date of the rule.