Last Thursday (5/11/23) immediately after the Biden administration issued a new rule limiting asylum and contravening US asylum laws, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and various immigration organizations brought forth a legal challenge. This rule took effect upon the expiry of the Title 42 border limitations.

Under the Biden administration, a policy has been implemented that is very much akin to a Trump-era rule. This entails that applicants seeking asylum must apply and get rejected in a foreign country on their way to the U.S. prior to seeking refuge in America. As asserted by Katrina Eiland, the Managing Attorney for the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, this measure would leave the vulnerable asylum seekers exposed to huge peril. She stated, “The asylum prohibitions were illegal and inhumane before, and they are still just as horrendous now.”

Biden’s new law will have substantial implications for refugee applicants throughout Latin America and worldwide. It effectively blocks those who cannot come directly to the U.S. to seek asylum, including those in Cuba and Venezuela, where there are few direct flights. To travel to the U.S., even those who possess a direct path would have to gain a tough-to-secure tourism visa before their flight.

Speaking on the matter, a spokesperson for the ACLU stated, “The Biden administration has failed to fulfill its promise of restoring the asylum system and has instead reinforced the harsh asylum restrictions put in place by the previous administration.”

The spokesperson added that “seeking asylum is a fundamental right protected by the law, regardless of the method of arrival in the country. Our legal action seeks to hold the administration accountable for not protecting the rights of individuals seeking refuge. We previously successfully sued over the Trump administration policy, with a court striking down that administration’s rule. Our aim is achieving the same success in striking down the new rule by the Biden administration.”