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Texas sues Biden administration over phone app for asylum-seekers

The lawsuit claims the CBP One app encourages migrants to enter the U.S. even if they don't qualify for asylum.
Texas sues Biden administration over phone app for asylum-seekers
Posted at 4:31 PM, May 24, 2023

Texas is suing the Biden administration over a newly-introduced asylum rule the state says is "encouraging" migrants to cross the southern border illegally.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Western District of Texas argues that the rule encourages migrants who don't have proper documentation to use a cellphone app — called CBP One — to schedule a "convenient time and place to cross the border illegally."  

The app is used by migrants who are seeking entry into the United States to set up appointments at ports of entry. The lawsuit claims it "enables noncitizens without appropriate documents" to upload information directly through the app, rather than present their documentation directly at the port of entry.

"The Biden Administration deliberately conceived of this phone app with the goal of illegally pre-approving more foreign aliens to enter the country and go where they please once they arrive," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement, accusing the Biden administration of encouraging illegal immigration. 

SEE MORE: What is Title 8, the law now governing immigration?

Earlier this month, Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas defended the app, saying it was part of measures that have reduced unlawful immigration and increased processing times at the border. 

"We launched the CBP One app, which, in its first four months, helped 83,000 individuals schedule an appointment at a port of entry, and we are taking steps to expand available appointments," Mayorkas said. 

While the lawsuit primarily takes aim at the app, it actually seeks to dismiss the entire asylum rule, which went into effect when Title 42 expired earlier this month. The new rule makes it extremely difficult for migrants to be granted asylum without first seeking protection from a country they traveled through on their journey to the U.S., or if they don't apply through the CBP One app. 

Despite fears that floods of migrants would cross the border after Title 42 expired, federal officials say border encounters have actually gone down. 

"We have communicated very clearly a vitally important message to the individuals who are thinking of arriving at our Southern border," Mayorkas said of the new policy. "There is a lawful, safe, and orderly way to arrive in the United States. That is through the pathways that President Biden has expanded in an unprecedented way. And then there's a consequence if one does not use those lawful pathways, and that consequence is removal from the United States, a deportation and encountering a five-year ban on reentry and possible criminal prosecution." 

SEE MORE: Migrant influx: New York City seeks to suspend 'right to shelter'

The Texas lawsuit argues that people who enter the country illegally should automatically be expelled, but the app doesn't verify whether migrants scheduling appointments to enter the U.S. qualify for exceptions. Therefore, the suit claims migrants are being "invited" to come to the U.S. even if they don't qualify for asylum.

The new rule has also come under attack by rights groups, who claim that all migrants have a right to seek asylum in the U.S.

"President Biden just ushered in a new period of immense suffering for people already enduring violence and persecution," said Jonathan Blazer, director of border strategies at the ACLU. "He has closed off the possibility of asylum in the United States to the majority of people seeking safety — in contradiction with our nation’s laws and values."


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