On June 3, 2024, President Biden issued a Presidential Proclamation suspending entry into the United States across the southern border, with limited exceptions. That proclamation, and an “Interim Final Rule” issued by the Department of Homeland Security, effectively denies refugees entering from Mexico the ability to seek asylum, unless they enter at an official border crossing after making an appointment on the internet. The suspension would end when the number of daily entries falls below 1,500, but it hasn’t been that low in years.

On June 12, we and the National ACLU filed suit on behalf of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services challenging this new asylum ban, as we had challenged a similar ban imposed by President Trump. Federal law expressly provides that “[a]ny [noncitizen] who … arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival ...) … may apply for asylum.” 8 U.S.C. § 1158(a)(1) (emphasis added).

The new policy also unlawfully raises the standard a refugee must meet to obtain temporary protection from being sent home to face torture. Previously, it was sufficient for a person to show a “significant possibility,” of persecution or torture; now a person must show a “reasonable probability.” And rather than being asked about fear of return, a person must affirmatively “manifest” a fear of persecution or torture, without being asked.

The ACLU lawsuit, which was joined by co-counsel from the National Immigrant Justice Center, the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Jenner & Block LLP, and the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), asserts that these changes violate federal statutes and were issued without following proper procedures. We ask the court to find that the new rules are contrary to law, arbitrary and capricious, and procedurally invalid, and to strike them down.

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Jenner & Block LLP

Date filed

June 12, 2024