HIAS Praises Federal Judge’s Ruling on Asylum Restrictions

HIAS welcomes today’s decision from a federal judge in San Francisco vacating the Biden administration’s “asylum ban.”

“U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar did not mince his words. He was resolute in his ruling that the current asylum ban does not pass muster,” said Naomi Steinberg, HIAS’ Vice President of U.S. Policy and Advocacy. She continued, “The message of today’s decision is clear to us as a refugee organization founded more than a century ago by Jewish Americans driven by the imperative to help and welcome the stranger: The rights of asylum seekers must not be compromised.”

Echoing court decisions that found such policies to be illegal in the past, Judge Tigar found that the border restrictions introduced in May after the lifting of Title 42 are significantly similar to earlier versions of this policy. The judge reaffirmed that the administration cannot limit access to asylum based on manner of entry or failing to apply for asylum elsewhere, where meaningful protection is not available. “The availability of refugee admissions, parole, or work visas is irrelevant to the availability of asylum, which Congress considered to be independent of any particular means of entry,” the judge wrote.

“Asylum seekers often face harrowing and traumatic journeys that lead them to enter the United States in various manners. That is why the U.S. has historically protected the right to seek asylum regardless of how and where people enter the country,” Steinberg said.

The judge granted a 14-day stay of the decision, meaning the Department of Homeland Security will have that time to decide whether they will appeal or whether to prepare for the ending of the rule. During that period, the asylum ban will continue to be implemented for those attempting to enter the U.S. at the southern border.

Steinberg added, “While today’s decision is cause for celebration, the road to striking down this policy once and for all is not at an end, as there is still potential for a months-long legal battle, likely going all the way to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, it is important that our partners and communities remain vigilant in opposing the other harmful policies that continue to put asylum seekers in danger.”

Steinberg noted that the administration continues to subject individuals to a stepped-up version of expedited removal, which allows asylum seekers to be denied entry to or expelled from the U.S. without access to hearings before an immigration judge — decreasing the number of people who can access the asylum system.

The ruling also does not limit the government’s use of the CBP One application, which remains an obstacle for many migrants seeking to make appointments to cross into the United States at the U.S-Mexico border.

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