The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) have implemented Fear Screening Pilot Programs for noncitizens, and while they’ve processed claims faster, the agencies need to process the data for these claims faster.

Noncitizens can be apprehended by DHS and may be removed from the United States without an immigration hearing unless they express an intent to apply for asylum or fear persecution or torture. The Fear Screening Pilot programs are put in place to process “fear claims” for noncitizens entering the United States.

From Oct. 2019 to Mar. 2020, DHS and DOJ have shown to process claims faster, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. This report was conducted to examine actions DHS and DOJ took to implement and expand the programs along the southwest border and what the agencies’ data indicate about the outcomes of individuals’ screenings and any gaps in the data.

“DHS processed 5,290 people under the pilots; most claims were denied,” GAO wrote. “But the agencies couldn’t account for the status of immigration hearings for 630 of about 1,210 people with positive determinations.”

GAO made two recommendations to improve the data management for the pilot programming, including:

  • DHS ensure components file Notices to Appear with DOJ for all who have received positive determinations under the programs; and
  • DOJ ensure staff enter all such notices in a timely manner into the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s (EOIR) case management system.

DHS concurred with the recommendations, but DOJ did not concur with the recommendations.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.