Judge blocks Biden administration's new rules for asylum-seekers at the border

A migrant in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, displays the CBP One app used to apply for an appointment to claim asylum in the U.S.

Gilles Clarenne / Gilles Clarenne

A federal judge has blocked the Biden administration’s new rules for asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In his order, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in Oakland, Calif, called the rules “arbitrary and capricious.”

But Tigar stayed his ruling for 14 days to give the Biden administration a chance to appeal.

The asylum rules, which took effect in May, make it harder for migrants to get asylum if they cross the border illegally after passing through Mexico or another country without seeking protection there first.

Tigar said that “noncitizens who enter between ports of entry, using a manner of entry that Congress expressly intended should not affect access to asylum.”

The judge’s decision was not unexpected. At a hearing last week, Tigar joked that he heard somewhere that “2023 was going to be a big year for sequels.” Tigar blocked a similar policy during the Trump administration, and immigrant advocates had urged him to do the same in this case.

At a hearing last week, a lawyer for the Justice Department argued that the Biden administration’s policy is different from the Trump-era version, in part because it’s paired with new legal pathways for migrants seeking protection.

The number of migrants crossing the border illegally dropped sharply in May and June, after the new rule took effect. The Biden administration says the decline is due in part to the new asylum rules — along with a mobile app called CBP One, which migrants can use to schedule interviews at official ports of entry, the first step toward filing a claim for asylum.

The Biden administration’s border policies have also been challenged in court by Republican-led states. They argue that immigration authorities are releasing too many migrants into the country to pursue their asylum claims.

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