Biden administration hit with first lawsuit over border ‘crackdown’

The first lawsuit challenging President Biden’s recent executive order on immigration was filed in federal court on Wednesday as Democratic lawmakers pressure the administration to back off from asylum restrictions. 

The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two pro-immigration groups, claims the Biden administration failed to provide “advance notice” before implementing “illegal changes” to the US immigration laws.

“We were left with no alternative but to sue,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. 

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

Biden’s order has been panned by both Republicans and Democrats. Getty Images

The complaint alleges that the Biden administration “harmed” immigrant advocacy groups by moving forward with an “Interim Final Rule without first providing notice and an opportunity to comment,” in “violation” of federal law. 

The order, issued last week, prevents individuals from applying for asylum when encounters with migrants between ports of entry average 2,500 per day over the course of a week. 

The restrictions can be lifted two weeks after crossings average 1,500 per day for seven straight days.

The proclamation went into effect immediately as migrant encounters were at about 4,000 per day when it was signed by the 81-year-old president. 

The lawsuit does not ask the US District Court in Washington, DC, for an emergency injunction to stop Biden’s order. 

The ACLU charges that Biden’s order is “illegal.” REUTERS
The order halts the processing of some asylum claims when migrant encounters between ports of entry reach 2,500 per day. REUTERS

“The Biden administration’s actions effectively shut the door on countless individuals fleeing violence and persecution,” Arthur Spitzer, senior counsel of the ACLU of the District of Columbia, charged in a statement.

“Anti-asylum policies are cruel, ineffective, and unlawfully undermine the fundamental right to seek asylum in the United States,” he added. 

The lawsuit comes one day after a group of more than a dozen House Democrats demanded that the Biden administration reconsider the new rules. 

“Allowing the consideration of mandatory bars to asylum during initial asylum screening interviews will force asylum seekers to present legally and factually complex arguments explaining the life-threatening harms they are fleeing shortly after enduring a long, traumatic journey and while being held in immigration detention and essentially cut off from legal help,” the 18 lawmakers, led by Reps. Delia Ramirez (D-Ill) and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill), wrote in a Tuesday letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur Jaddou.

“The Biden Administration just two years ago concluded that the inclusion of mandatory bars in credible fear screenings would make the screenings less efficient, undermining Congress’s intent that the expedited removal process be swift, and would undermine procedural fairness, leading to substantial due process concerns,” they added in the missive obtained by the Hill.

Critics of Biden’s order note that the “crackdown” would still allow 1.8 million asylum seekers into the county if fully enforced due to several exemptions. 

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