McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A group of nonprofits and migrant advocacy organizations is suing the Biden administration against its asylum policies put in place after Title 42 was lifted.
The lawsuit was filed earlier this week on behalf of Al Otro Lado, Haitian Bridge Alliance, and nine individual plaintiffs who argue that migrants have been unable to access the CBP One app to secure asylum appointments, as required under Title 8 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The case was filed Wednesday in southern California against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and is being represented by the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, the American Immigration Council and the Center for Constitution Rights, among others.
The preliminary injunction asks the court to block the government from implementing what they call a “turnback policy” until the case is decided.
“Access to the asylum process should not be run like a deli counter, where you get a number and wait for your sandwich. Refugees do not have the luxury of waiting on a CBP One appointment to save their lives, because many of them are being hunted all the way to the border. CBP’s refusal to process refugees who do not have a CBP One appointment will only push them to cross through the desert, where many of them will die, or will keep them trapped in Mexico, where many of them will also die,” said Nicole Ramos, director of Al Otro Lado’s Border Rights Project.
The Department of Homeland Security has repeatedly said the policy, formally called the Circumvention of Lawful Pathways, provides real consequences for those who illegally enter the country and allows asylum-seekers the opportunities to present their asylum claims to officers at the border “in a humane and orderly” way. The policy was implemented after Title 42 was lifted in May. That public health policy had prevented asylum-seekers from claiming asylum at the U.S. border since 2020 in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Now, migrants must wait for an appointment, cannot cross the border into the U.S. illegally, and they must file for asylum in other countries they first come to from their homeland in order to be considered for asylum in the United States.
Migrant advocates say this has put a hardship on vulnerable populations waiting south of the border for appointments who are subject to inhumane conditions in Mexican border towns where known cartel and other crimes regularly occur.
“The only alternative, which is to schedule an appointment to present at the border through the CBP One app, is not working for vulnerable groups, with a particular impact on women and Black and Indigenous asylum seekers,” Nicole Phillips, legal director at the Haitian Bridge Alliance, said in a statement.
“Every day the government’s unlawful turnback policy remains in place, people seeking safety are stranded in precarious conditions where their lives are at risk. Our courageous plaintiffs have recounted harrowing experiences of violence, discrimination, and homelessness as a direct result of the policy. Their stories represent just the tip of the iceberg. This policy is costing lives. The court must step in now,” said Neela Chakravartula, Managing Attorney at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, recently told Border Report that the asylum policy has too many loopholes and exceptions, including allowing unaccompanied children to cross the border, and for thousands from certain Latin American and Caribbean countries to be paroled into the United States legally by DHS every month.
Krikorian said his organization wants to see the Biden administration restart the “Remain in Mexico” policy that was in effect under the Trump administration, which required most asylum-seekers to wait south of the border until their U.S. immigration cases are adjudicated.