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Federal Judge Blocks Biden’s Asylum Policy; What Happens Now? 

FILE - Guardsmen talk with migrants trying to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into the U.S. near in Eagle Pass, Texas, July 11, 2023.
FILE - Guardsmen talk with migrants trying to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into the U.S. near in Eagle Pass, Texas, July 11, 2023.

A federal judge has blocked the Biden administration's asylum rule for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In his ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in Oakland, California, deemed the rules unlawful, saying they imposed conditions on asylum-seekers that Congress didn't intend.

“The ruling is a victory, but each day the Biden administration prolongs the fight over its illegal ban, many people fleeing persecution and seeking safe harbor for their families are instead left in grave danger,” Katrina Eiland, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case, said in a statement to the press.

What happens now?

Tigar’s ruling is on hold for 14 days to give the government time to appeal. That appeal is expected to be filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Nothing changes for 14 days. … And we wait to see if the 9th [Circuit Court of Appeals] says, ‘The asylum ban continues while we reach a decision,’” Priscilla Orta, an immigration lawyer in Brownsville, Texas, told VOA.

Orta has been crossing the border into Matamoros, Mexico, almost weekly to explain to migrants the process they are about to face.

What is the Biden administration asylum rule?

The administration’s asylum rule was released in May. According to court documents, a Department of Homeland Security official called the measure critical to the agency’s plan to effectively manage irregular migration.

The rule bars most migrants from applying for asylum if they cross the border without authorization or fail to first apply for safety in another country on their way to the U.S.

The rule does not apply to unaccompanied children, asylum-seekers who entered at a legal port of entry, or those running from “imminent” harm. It is also set to expire in two years.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has previously said the asylum rule had no resemblance to a ban “because we have built lawful pathways. We do have a way for asylum-seekers to seek relief at the ports of entry. We will, of course, have exceptions for humanitarian reasons when individuals cannot avail themselves of the CBP One application. So, this is quite, quite different.”

What are the other measures in place?

Since the announcement of the asylum rule, the Biden administration has offered a humanitarian parole measure that allows entry for up to 30,000 people a month from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti.

Those seeking parole must meet all requirements, which include having U.S.-based financial sponsors, undergoing security vetting and completing vaccine demands, among others, and they must pay their own travel expenses if they receive travel authorization from the U.S. government.

The humanitarian parole authority allows the approved applicants to live and work legally in the U.S. temporarily, but it does not lead to permanent residence. Those under parole status can apply for asylum or adjust to another permanent immigration relief if available.

What if someone is apprehended after crossing the border without authorization?

Migrants can either be detained and removed or allowed entry into the U.S. to continue their asylum claim if they meet specific exceptions.

If the migrant is removed, the government uses a process known as expedited removal, which is a fast-tracked measure for removal if U.S. immigration officers conclude a person does not have a valid asylum claim, a determination made without the migrant appearing before an immigration judge. Unaccompanied children who cross the border into the United States are exempted from the policy.

According to U.S. immigration law, the expedited removal order blocks a person from entering the U.S. for five years, and if that person tries to enter the country illegally after receiving an expedited removal order, the person can be banned for at least 10 years or, in some cases, permanently.

Is it possible for migrants to cross at a port of entry?

Those waiting on the Mexican side can try to secure an appointment via the CBP One app used by the U.S. government to allow migrants to register and schedule arrivals at official U.S. points of entry.

Appointments are limited. About 1,450 are available each day.