California Federal Judge Rules Against Asylum Restrictions

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President Joe Biden arrives to speak to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party's 3rd Annual Independence Dinner in Philadelphia, Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

In a significant legal setback for the Biden administration, a California federal judge, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, ruled against recent restrictions placed on asylum along the U.S.-Mexico border on Tuesday.

He argued that the policy, partially attributed to the notable decrease in migrant crossings, infringes on the country’s legal responsibilities towards individuals escaping violence.

Policy Found In Contravention of US Asylum Law

The policy, enacted in May, was found by Judge Tigar to be in violation of U.S. asylum law. The law, since 1980, allows migrants on American soil to appeal for humanitarian protection, a mechanism to forestall the government’s attempts to deport them, irrespective of their method of entry into the country.

The recently implemented policy disqualifies migrants from seeking asylum if they cross the U.S. southern border unlawfully and without first requesting humanitarian refuge in another country, such as Mexico, during their northward journey. Exceptions were made for specific migrants, including unaccompanied minors, individuals who secure permission to enter the U.S. legally, and asylum-seekers facing “imminent” harm.

The California Federal Judge’s Stand Against Restrictive Rule

Judge Tigar, in his Tuesday ruling, declared the rule excessively restrictive as it considers factors not explicitly approved by Congress, such as whether migrants utilized a legal migration program before requesting asylum. His verdict was based on his interpretation that some of the exemptions to the asylum restriction are “unavailable to many noncitizens.”