(The Hill) — An immigrant advocacy group is threatening to sue the Biden administration over its anticipated plans to change U.S. asylum policy, which is expected to be announced in the coming weeks, NBC News reported on Monday.
If adopted, the new rule would prohibit migrants from seeking asylum in the United States if they did not initially attempt to apply for it from the country they were coming from. Migrants would not be eligible for the program if they cross an international border without applying first.
Director of litigation at the National Immigrant Justice Center Keren Zwic said that her organization and its partner groups will fight the expected charges in court, saying that the new rule, which comes as President Biden has faced unrelenting GOP criticism over his handling of the southern border, would not survive a legal challenge if it was enacted.
“If the proposed asylum ban rule does what we expect it to do — unlawfully deprive access to asylum based on manner of entry and/or transit route, it would be invalid like the similar Trump administration rules that were found unlawful by federal courts,” she reportedly said.
Four senior Department of Homeland Security officials told NBC News that the new rule is expected to be formally announced in the coming weeks as Border Patrol sets up more phone booths to be used for remote interviews to determine whether a migrant is eligible for asylum. The officials said the new policy would quickly expel those who do not meet the qualifications, and that the policy would wind up preventing many migrants from Central America attempting to claim asylum, according to NBC News.
Nearly 300 advocacy groups signed a letter to Biden last month calling on his administration not to adopt the changes.
“Your administration’s announcement of plans to establish a presumption of asylum ineligibility for individuals who do not use ‘established pathways to lawful migration’ and do not apply for protection in countries of transit advances the agenda of the Trump administration, which repeatedly sought to impose similar asylum bans,” the groups wrote in their letter.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas responded to critics of the asylum rule who say it is an “asylum ban” in comments to reporters last month.
“But it is not a ban at all, and it is markedly different than what the Trump administration proposed,” he said at the time. “What we are trying to do is draw people in a safe and orderly way, which is not the case now.”