In a significant setback for the Biden administration’s efforts to address the border crisis, a federal judge blocked a rule introduced in May that made certain migrants ineligible for asylum if they entered the U.S. illegally and failed to use lawful pathways. The judge, an Obama appointee, found the rule “both substantively and procedurally invalid” and delayed its implementation for 14 days to allow the administration to appeal.
The rule aimed to discourage irregular migration and encourage migrants to use expanded legal pathways, including the controversial CBP One app. It allowed migrants to challenge the presumption of ineligibility if they could show exceptional circumstances, and it did not apply to unaccompanied minors.
The Biden administration has been relying on this rule, along with other measures, to tackle the surge in migration after the expiration of the Title 42 public health order in May. The rule formed a central part of their strategy to handle the situation, and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas emphasized the administration’s commitment to processing and removing those without a legal basis to remain in the U.S.
However, left-wing immigration activist groups, including the ACLU, challenged the rule in court, claiming it was cruel and limited foreign nationals’ ability to seek asylum in the U.S. The ACLU hailed the judge’s ruling as a victory and called on the administration to abandon what they view as cruel and ineffective policies.
The judge blocked the rule based on deficiencies in the notice procedures under the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the enactment of federal agency rules. He argued that the 30-day notice period provided for the rule was insufficient due to its complexity.
The ruling is a significant blow for the administration’s border policies, as they had pointed to a decrease in encounters in June as evidence that the combination of the rule and expanded lawful pathways was restoring order at the border. However, Republican-led states are also challenging the rule, claiming it is a “smoke screen” to redefine illegal crossings as “lawful pathways.”
As DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, the border crisis remains a contentious issue for the Biden administration, and this ruling adds further complications to their efforts to address the situation.