Administration

ACLU sues to block new asylum restrictions

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and several immigration groups have filed a lawsuit challenging a new Biden administration rule that limits asylum, a policy finalized as part of the White House’s plan for responding to the border following the rescission of Title 42.

The lawsuit was filed shortly after midnight, just minutes after the rule went into effect.

The rule mimics a Trump-era policy by barring people who do not first apply and get denied in another country along their route to the U.S. from seeking asylum.

“The Biden administration’s new ban places vulnerable asylum seekers in grave danger and violates U.S. asylum laws. We’ve been down this road before with Trump,” said Katrina Eiland, managing attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. 

“The asylum bans were cruel and illegal then, and nothing has changed now.”

The ACLU previously successfully sued over the Trump administration policy, with a court striking down that administration’s rule.

The Biden rule would have far-reaching consequences for asylum seekers in Latin America and across the globe.

It effectively blocks those who aren’t able to come directly to the U.S. to seek asylum, including those in Cuba and Venezuela where there are few direct flights.

And even those who can secure a direct path to the U.S. would have to gain a tough-to-secure tourism visa before their flight.

The Biden rule assumes those who do not first get denied for asylum elsewhere are ineligible for asylum — an assumption they can seek to challenge in immigration court, a higher bar for what is already a difficult protection to secure.

But the Biden administration argued the restrictions are justified, as they have paired the rule with a program that offers temporary entrance to the U.S. for Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians who can secure U.S.-based financial sponsors. 

“W​e believe that rule is well within our statutory authority. And we have tied it to an expansion, a historic expansion … of our lawful pathways for people to come directly to the United States at the end of the day,” Blas Nuñez-Neto, chief operating officer at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said on a call Friday with reporters.

Tags ACLU Cuba Haiti Joe Biden Nicaragua Title 42 Venezuela

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