The Biden administration is fighting to keep new asylum restrictions in place, warning that halting them would cause chaos at the border. The government is asking a panel of judges in Pasadena, California to overturn a July ruling that attempted to block the restrictions. These new rules have made it much harder for migrants to qualify for asylum if they didn’t first apply online or seek protection in another country, such as Mexico. Despite facing opposition, the restrictions have remained in place during the appeal.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) November 8, 2023
While the judges have not yet made a ruling, the argument took place while Senate Republicans are pushing for significant changes to asylum eligibility as part of Biden’s military aid request for Ukraine and Israel. The Biden administration argues that their approach is different from Trump’s because it is combined with new legal pathways to enter the country and includes exceptions. However, advocacy groups represented by the ACLU, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, and National Immigrant Justice Center believe that these policies are just recycled from the Trump era and violate U.S. law on asylum-seeking.
The Biden administration has introduced a mobile app that allows asylum-seekers to make appointments at official border crossings with Mexico. Additionally, they have allowed up to 30,000 migrants per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to apply for asylum if they have a financial sponsor and arrive at an airport. While the government argues that these new pathways are a significant difference from Trump’s policies, critics argue that the exceptions to the restrictions are minimal and the majority of asylum-seekers still have to enter through official points of entry.
The new restrictions did lead to a decrease in illegal crossings from Mexico, but the decrease was short-lived, and arrest rates have increased since then. In September, arrests were just below a record-high reached in December 2022, and over 2 million arrests were made in the government’s budget year that ended on September 30. Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Blas Nuñez-Neto has stressed the importance of these restrictions, pointing out that approval rates on initial asylum screenings dropped significantly after their implementation.
The Justice Department attorney, Brian Boynton, has asked the judges to keep the policy in place, even if they rule against the administration. This implies that the administration is prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary. The battle over asylum restrictions continues, with both sides strongly advocating for their respective positions.