The Department of Justice appealed a federal judge's Tuesday ruling that blocks the Biden administration from continuing its post-Title 42 immigration policy.
The Biden administration has touted the policy, which officials said has led to a drop in illegal border crossings in May and June.
"We remain confident in our position that the Circumvention of Lawful Pathways rule is a lawful exercise of the broad authority granted by the immigration laws," a spokesperson for the DOJ said.
Title 42, which was put in place during the pandemic by then-President Donald Trump in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, expired May 12. Customs and Border Protection said that those who do not establish a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed and are subject to a minimum five-year ban on reentry.
In hopes of managing the flow of migrants coming to the border, the Biden administration launched the CBP One app, that essentially requires most migrants to book an appointment to present themselves for asylum.
The suit was filed on behalf of East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, among other groups. They say U.S. immigration law allows for those who cross the border outside of a point of entry to still seek asylum.
California Northern District Judge Jon Tigar, an appointee of President Barack Obama, authored the ruling, agreeing with advocates for migrants.
"Conditioning asylum eligibility on presenting at a port of entry or having been denied protection in transit conflicts with the unambiguous intent of Congress," Tigar wrote.
Last week, the Biden administration released data indicating that encounters along the U.S.-Mexico border dropped to the lowest level in more than two years. But how it got to that result was illegal, Tigar noted.
"The Rule is unquestionably complex — it establishes a presumption of asylum ineligibility for noncitizens who enter at the Southern border that is subject to various exceptions, one of which contains its own exception, and is rebuttable only in certain circumstances. That presumption of ineligibility applies across all contexts in which such individuals might be screened for asylum or other protection," Tiger said.
On the flip side, Republicans have been calling on Biden to take tougher measures at the border. The debate comes as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he would not take down buoys in the Rio Grande. The Department of Justice informed the state of Texas last week that it did not receive proper authorization for the barriers, which the DOJ insists violate federal law.
In the letter to Biden, Abbott contends that the marine barriers were deployed legally, noting that the U.S. Constitution gives Texas "sovereign authority to protect its borders."
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