A federal judge in California decided Tuesday to block President Joe Biden’s attempt to restrict how migrants can claim asylum under US law.
US District Court Judge Jon Tigar’s 35-page ruling instructs the Justice Department to rescind its policy mandating that those seeking asylum first secure an appointment at a port of entry, or prove that they had previously sought legal protections in a third-party nation on their way to the US.
“The Rule — which has been in effect for two months — cannot remain in place, and vacating the challenged Rule would restore a regulatory regime that was in place for decades before,” Tigar wrote.
Under US law, any migrant can claim asylum in the US whether or not they present themselves at a legal port of entry.
The lawsuit was brought by a coalition of civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, who challenged the legality of the policy, which was instituted as part of a broader package attempting to discourage illegal border crossings along the US-Mexico border ahead of what was an expected mass uptick in migration.
But crossings have significantly plummeted after the expiration of COVID-19-related authorities that facilitated deportations.
Tigar stayed his order for two weeks pending an appeal in the case.
The Justice Department has pledged to launch the legal challenge, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas maintained Tigar’s ruling “does not change anything immediately.”
“It does not limit our ability to deliver consequences for unlawful entry. 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,” he said in a statement.
“We encourage migrants to ignore the lies of smugglers and use lawful, safe, and orderly pathways that have been expanded under the Biden Administration,” he added.
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