Biden administration's asylum rule is blocked in court for now

Published: Tuesday, July 25, 2023 - 5:07pm
Updated: Wednesday, July 26, 2023 - 10:51am
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A federal judge in California has ruled to vacate a new asylum rule enacted by the Biden administration in May, when the pandemic-era restriction Title 42 came to an end. Under the new policy, migrants could be ineligible for asylum in the U.S. if they didn’t first seek protection in another country they passed through along the way. 

The ACLU and other organizations filed suit almost immediately after it was enacted, arguing the new rule was a revamp of a Trump-era restriction already shot down in federal court.

Criticism over the rule also came from within the government. The American Federation of Government Employees' National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council 119 — which represents more than 14,000 Citizenship and Immigration Services employees, including some 1,000 asylum officers — filed an amicus brief in support of the ACLU suit, arguing the new rule forces them to go against refugee protection laws. 

Michael Knowles is the union's spokesperson.

"We’re pleased to see that justice has prevailed, although we also understand that the road to justice can be a longer one," he said. 

Knowles said the ruling was good news for the union and asylum officers tasked with enforcing the new rule during asylum screening. But with some 1,000 asylum officers handling hundreds of thousands of pending immigration cases, more work is still needed.

"It's time for Congress and the administration to properly fund and resource our program so that you have enough officers to do the work that the law requires," he said. "We are currently very understaffed and in order to meet any crisis ... you need to have a properly staffed program in order for us to do the work that the American people expect us to do."

District Judge Jon Tigar ruled the Biden administration's policy imposed conditions on asylum seekers not approved by Congress and have the government 14 days to enact his ruling. He's the same judge who first shot down the Trump-era version. 

The Justice Department has asked for his ruling to be put on hold while the government appeals.

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