Appeals court lets asylum restrictions stay in place while case plays out

August 4, 2023

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday granted a temporary pause against blocking rules restricting asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border while a lawsuit plays out.

The decision is being seen as a win for the Biden Administration after a U.S. District Judge in California in July ruled against the restrictions.

The Biden Administration had begun the policy in May, which denies asylum to migrants who show up at the border without first applying online or seeking protection in a country they passed through.

It was credited in part for a plunge in the number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization last month, despite fears of a surge following the rescinding of Title 42, the pandemic-era health policy begun under then-President Trump and continued under President Biden, that allowed for expulsions of migrants at the border.

However, following lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against both the Biden and Trump Administrations, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in Oakland, California concluded that the policy violates U.S. asylum law first established in 1980. It dictates that any migrant on U.S. soil who requests humanitarian protection be allowed asylum regardless of how they entered the country.

On Thursday a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of the government’s request for the new rule to be allowed to remain in use while the legal battle plays out.

The judges also said they would expedite the hearing for the appeal. Both sides are now expected to send in their arguments to the 9th Circuit court by mid-September, and a hearing will be held at a yet-to-be determined date.

In January, Customs and Border Protection did establish an app for migrants seeking asylum in advance of the new rule. By using the app CBP One to secure appointments, more than 38,000 migrants were authorized to enter the U.S. along border ports in June.

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