Pro-immigrant groups sue Biden for restricting asylum at the border

WASHINGTON —A coalition of pro-immigrant groups sued the federal government on Wednesday over President Joe Biden's recent directive Biden that restricts the asylum in the border with Mexico.

The lawsuit – filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other organizations on behalf of activist groups Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services ( RAICES)—represents the first time the legality of Biden's sweeping restrictions on the southern border is being tested, which came after months of internal deliberations at the White House and are intended in part to divert attacks on the president for his handling of immigration.

The order Biden issued last week would limit the processing of asylum applications once the number of encounters with migrants between ports of entry reaches 2,500 a day. The measure went into effect immediately because the latest figures available were much higher, at approximately 4,000 daily encounters.

The restrictions will remain in effect until two weeks after the number of those daily encounters between ports of entry is at or below 1,500 per day for an average of seven days. But it is far from clear when the numbers would reach such low levels; the last time was in July 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most immigrants enter the United States arguing that they need asylum, even though most seek entry for economic reasons. Biden's flexible policies until last May allowed 10 million people to meet, according to reports from Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The exceptions

The order went into effect June 5, and federal government officials have said they anticipate deportations to reach unprecedented levels.

The decree includes exceptions such as minors traveling alone, victims of “a serious form of trafficking”, migrants with a visa and those who arrive at a port of entry through a legal route such as the CBP One mobile application.

In addition to enabling the closure of the border, the decree toughens the standards for examining asylum applications and favors accelerated deportations.

This measure has put organizations defending undocumented migrants on a war footing in an election year in which Biden is trying to capture the vote of the Latino electorate.

“We had no choice but to sue,” says Lee Gelernt of the ACLU.

“The administration lacks unilateral authority to override Congress and ban asylum based on how one enters the country, a point the courts made abundantly clear when the Trump administration unsuccessfully attempted a near-ban. identical,” he added.

“Asylum is not a legal loophole, but rather a measure to save lives; access to asylum is a human right and legally protected in the United States,” said Jennifer Babaie, director of the Las Americas Immigrant Defense Center. ©ricas, in the same statement.

The groups consider Biden's executive order “contrary to the law” and “arbitrary,” the lawsuit reads.

The case has been filed in a Washington district court.