In the face of mounting legal battles, the Biden administration finds itself confronted with challenges that threaten to undermine key policies it has enacted. Despite touting a significant decline of over 70% in border encounters since the expiration of the Title 42 public health order, there are persistent concerns.
At the southern border, encounters have decreased substantially since the lifting of Title 42 on May 11th, according to DHS spokesman Blas Nunez-Neto. The government has introduced authorized avenues for entry, including the CBP One app, which enables migrants to apply and gain access to the United States.
Efforts to manage the influx at the border have yielded some positive results, as expressed by Nunez-Neto. However, critics argue that the Trump administration’s policies, such as “catch-and-release” and reduced interior enforcement, have contributed to the ongoing crisis.
The implementation of the “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” rule on May 11th is a central component of the current strategy. Under this rule, migrants who enter the United States unlawfully and fail to claim asylum in a country they previously passed through are deemed ineligible. The CBP One app serves as a popular method for scheduling appointments with CBP officers at designated ports of entry.
Nevertheless, exceptions exist for migrants who can demonstrate that the app was non-functional or that their lives are in immediate danger. The presumption of ineligibility can be disproven in these cases, although unaccompanied children are exempt from this policy.
The ACLU and other liberal groups swiftly filed lawsuits, asserting that the ban violates the constitutional rights of asylum seekers. Conversely, Republican-led states have begun challenging the ruling. Texas, the first state to do so, claims that CBP One allows the admission of migrants without verifying their intention to seek asylum, prompting their lawsuit against the federal government.
Recently, 18 additional states joined the lawsuit, criticizing the regulation as a “smoke screen” that essentially permits previously unlawful border crossings. These states argue that the circumvention rule falls short and is part of the Biden administration’s broader attempt to obscure the true situation at the Southwest Border.
The outcome of these legal cases challenging the administration’s border authority could have far-reaching implications. Already, the government has halted a separate program for releasing migrants into the interior without court dates, known as “parole with conditions,” due to overcrowding concerns. However, a federal judge blocked this program just hours before Title 42 expired.
The government has denounced the shutdown as “sabotage,” citing potential risks of overcrowding at CBP checkpoints. So far, the decrease in encounters at the border has prevented this issue from arising. However, the state of Florida has expanded its case, seeking to prohibit the “streamlined” approach of releasing migrants with court dates and on their own recognizance (OR).
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has been outspoken in his criticism of President Biden’s policies, asserting that they jeopardize public safety and border security. The ongoing legal battles may force the administration to explore alternative programs or even consider a complete halt to the admission of illegal immigrants.
Despite the current decline in border encounters, officials caution against assuming that the trend will continue, especially with the summer months traditionally being the busiest. Nunez-Neto emphasized that the Department of Homeland Security remains vigilant and closely monitors developments in Mexico and other regions. Cooperation with international partners remains strong, as they collectively combat human trafficking and ensure ongoing enforcement operations. The United States remains resolute in addressing these challenges head-on.