Immigrants' rights groups sue over Biden's Trump-style asylum ban

Washington DC - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced it has joined forces with immigrants' rights groups to sue the Biden administration over executive actions that infringe on the right to seek asylum.

Immigrants' rights groups are taking legal action after President Joe Biden signed an executive order to effectively shut down the US-Mexico border to people seeking asylum.
Immigrants' rights groups are taking legal action after President Joe Biden signed an executive order to effectively shut down the US-Mexico border to people seeking asylum.  © Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

The federal lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, takes aim at an executive order President Joe Biden signed last week which allows him to close the US-Mexico border to people seeking asylum when the seven-day average of daily border encounters between ports of entry stands above 2,500.

The new rule effectively bars people from seeking asylum at the Southern border, no matter how strong their case, echoing a similar policy instituted by ex-president Donald Trump in 2018.

The ACLU and its partners successfully defeated the Trump ban in court.

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Biden's latest move received swift condemnation and threats of legal action from immigrants' rights groups.

Advocates and progressive members of Congress have instead urged measures to address the root causes of migration and a safe asylum process for people seeking refuge in the US.

Immigrants' rights groups left with "no alternative"

The ACLU, the National Immigrant Justice Center, the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Jenner & Block LLP, the ACLU of the District of Columbia, and the Texas Civil Rights Project submitted their new complaint on behalf of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.

"We were left with no alternative but to sue. The administration lacks unilateral authority to override Congress and bar asylum based on how one enters the country, a point the courts made crystal clear when the Trump administration unsuccessfully tried a near-identical ban," Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a press release.

The right to seek asylum is internationally recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Refugee Convention of 1951, and domestically in the Refugee Act of 1980.

Cover photo: Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

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