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Biden administration criticizes ruling striking down asylum policy

Group of Venezuelan migrants turn in to Border Patrol
David Peinado Romero/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The Biden administration expressed a federal judge’s ruling striking down the Biden administration’s asylum policy that established a “rebuttable presumption” of asylum ineligibility.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said he disagreed with the court’s ruling.

“It does not limit our ability to deliver consequences for unlawful entry,” he said. “Do not believe the lies of smugglers. Those who fail to use one of the many lawful pathways we have expanded will be presumed ineligible for asylum and, if they do not have a basis to remain, will be subject to prompt removal, a minimum five-year bar on admission, and potential criminal prosecution for unlawful reentry.”

Shortly after the decision was handed down, the Justice Department said it stood by the policy.

“We remain confident in our position that the Circumvention of Lawful Pathways rule is a lawful exercise of the broad authority granted by the immigration laws,” a spokesperson for the Justice Department said.

Immigration advocates, however, see the ruling as a victory.

“The ruling is a victory, but each day the Biden administration prolongs the fight over its illegal ban, many people fleeing persecution and seeking safe harbor for their families are instead left in grave danger,” said Katrina Eiland, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case. “The promise of America is to serve as a beacon of freedom and hope, and the administration can and should do better to fulfill this promise, rather than perpetuate cruel and ineffective policies that betray it.”

Just hours after Judge Jon Tigar’s ruling on Tuesday blocking the administration’s asylum restrictions, the Justice Department filed a motion to stay the order pending appeal and an emergency motion to shorten the time to grant that stay. The court punted ruling on the emergency motion for another day, saying that the Justice Department did not demonstrate good cause for the court to issue a ruling before the plaintiffs had the chance to voice their opposition and gave them until July 26 at 5 pm to file their response.

Tigar’s Tuesday night ruling found the policy to be “contrary to law” and ordered the policy be ended in two weeks.

“The severity of the agencies’ errors in this case counsels strongly in favor of vacatur. The Rule is both substantively and procedurally invalid. The agencies cannot adopt the same rule on remand; as described above, the Rule is contrary to law,” Tigar, an Obama appointee, wrote.

In the wake of the rollback of Title 42, the Trump administration policy which expelled migrants along the border under the auspices of the pandemic, the Biden administration rolled out a new asylum policy which limited the number of claims that were made at the southern border.

The policy, which took effect after Title 42 ended on May 11, mandated that migrants apply for asylum in the counties that they passed through before reaching the United States. Additionally, migrants would have to use the CBP One App to apply for asylum to control the flow of migrants at the border, according to the administration. It would be in effect for only two years.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 144,571 encounters at the southwest land border in the month of June, marking the lowest monthly total in fiscal year 2023.

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