An appeals court ruled Thursday that a Biden administration rule restricting asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border can temporarily remain in place while the appeals process plays out.
The new rule was established around the same time that Title 42— a pandemic-era health policy — expired in early May. It now requires migrants who are seeking asylum in the U.S. to first prove that they've sought protection in another country on their journey to the southern border.
The ruling from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allows the Biden administration policy to stay intact, at least temporarily. Judges Richard Paez and William Fletcher, who were both appointed by former President Bill Clinton, ruled in favor of the government's request, while Trump-appointed Judge Lawrence VanDyke dissented.
Rights groups sued, arguing that the new rule puts migrants in danger as they wait in northern Mexico to be granted the opportunity to seek asylum in the U.S. The American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday that the appeals court ruling didn't mention anything about the legality of the ban.
"We are confident that we will prevail when the court has a full opportunity to consider the claims [rights groups made]," said Katrina Eiland, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case. "The Biden administration should uphold our asylum laws, which were designed to give people a fair chance to seek safety, not ban them arbitrarily despite their need for protection."
"The Biden administration's asylum ban is illegal and dangerous," added Anne Peterson, senior staff attorney at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies.
The Department of Homeland Security has defended the new rule, saying it significantly reduces irregular migration.
"This Administration has led the largest expansion of legal pathways for protection in decades, and this regulation will encourage migrants to seek access to those pathways instead of arriving unlawfully in the grip of smugglers at the southern border," Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. "At the same time, we continue to urge Congress to act on President Biden’s immigration reform proposal, bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers and farm workers, and repeated requests for additional resources to hire more asylum officers and immigration judges so we can finally fix our long-broken immigration system."
The new rule replaces Title 42, which was established in March 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to essentially close the southern U.S. border to all asylum seekers. Supporters of the Trump-era policy said it was needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and since 2020, it has been used some 2.7 million times to expel migrants.
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