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Attorney General Schmitt Challenges DHS Fast-Track Asylum System in Lawsuit

Apr 28, 2022, 14:06 PM by AG Schmitt
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. Today, Missouri, Louisiana, Arizona, and 11 other states filed a lawsuit against the Biden Administration for their proposed asylum rule change at the Southern border that largely removes federal immigration judges from the asylum review process and instead gives asylum officers within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unprecedented authority to grant asylum to migrants outright. The new rule not only violates federal laws and bypasses Congress but also drastically erodes asylum integrity safeguards.

“Today, my Office has yet again taken action to secure the Southern border and protect Missourians. The Biden Administration’s rule change to fast-track asylum proceedings will erode asylum integrity safeguards and make it significantly easier for illegal immigrants to present bogus asylum claims in order to enter the interior of the United States never to be seen again,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “With the massive influx of illegal drugs like fentanyl and human trafficking, every state is a border state. As I’ve said previously, if the Biden Administration won’t take concrete action to secure our Southern border, I certainly won’t hesitate to take action.”

The Biden administration published the Asylum Rule in late March, which applies to new arrivals at U.S. borders who are making asylum claims. Federal law requires that immigration judges within the Department of Justice (DOJ) make the final determinations for migrants’ asylum claims. However, under the new Asylum Rule, that power would be largely transferred to DHS asylum officers, which is a direct violation of federal lawThis would eliminate immigration judges from the review process in most cases and replaces them with individuals that are far more susceptible to political control within an administration, guaranteeing an increase in the rate of false asylum claims being granted. Additionally, the Asylum Rule violates the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1101, the Homeland Security Act, and the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

The coalition argues the Biden administration did not follow the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when promulgating the Asylum Rule, including by offering arbitrary and capricious reasoning and changing the final rule so completely from the proposed rule as to deny the public a meaningful chance to comment on it before issuance. Indeed, the changes are so significant that they take over 3,100 words even to summarize the changes, which include at least 23 significant amendments by the Biden administration’s own count.

Furthermore, the Biden administration failed to analyze the interaction between the Asylum Rule and its proposed termination of Title 42, set to become effective on May 23, which will cause a massive increase in illegal immigration and non-meritorious asylum claims. The Asylum Rule will go into effect merely eight days later, causing an exponential increase in illegal border crossings. The effect will be to stack a crisis upon a crisis.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has been among the most active attorneys general in the country in fighting to secure the Southern border. Just this week, Missouri and Texas’ case against the Biden Administration’s cancellation of the “Remain in Mexico” Policy was heard in front of the United States Supreme Court. Further, Missouri, Louisiana, and Arizona obtained a temporary restraining order in their lawsuit against the Biden Administration’s cancellation of Title 42. Missouri and Texas also have a pending lawsuit against the Biden Administration to force them to build the Southwest border wall using funds previously appropriated by Congress.

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. Joining Attorney General Schmitt are the attorneys general of Arizona, Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

A copy of complaint can be found here: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/1-complaint.pdf?sfvrsn=6946fea3_2