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ACLU Vows Legal Action Against Biden’s Anti-Migrant Executive Order

Human rights advocates are lambasting the order, saying it “takes the same approach” as Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on an executive order limiting asylum in the East Room of the White House on June 4, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is vowing to sue the Biden administration after President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Tuesday that severely restricts the number of asylum seekers who can enter the U.S.

The order authorizes the immediate deportation of asylum seekers at the border if they did not enter the U.S. through a legal port of entry. It goes into effect when such border crossings exceed a threshold of 2,500 migrants per day, on average, over the course of a week, and can only be lifted when the average dips down to 1,500 per day.

Human rights advocates have condemned the executive order, noting that it violates international law, which applies to the U.S., and utilizes Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act — the same statute that former President Donald Trump used to enforce racist immigration standards under his administration, including the Muslim travel ban, restrictions on immigrants from countries with Brown or Black populations, and more.

As the rate of asylum seekers crossing into the U.S. currently exceeds the threshold established by the order, the measure will go into effect right away — resulting in mass deportations of people who fled to the U.S. seeking refuge from violence and persecution in their home countries.

On the social media site X on Tuesday, the ACLU said that the organization would seek to block Biden’s illegal executive order, just like they had under Trump.

“The Biden administration just announced an executive order that will severely restrict people’s legal right to seek asylum, putting tens of thousands of lives at risk,” the organization stated. “This action takes the same approach as the Trump administration’s asylum ban. We will be challenging this order in court.”

In a statement to Axios, Lee Gelernt, Deputy Director for the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, reiterated the organization’s plans.

“We intend to sue,” Gelernt said. “A ban on asylum is illegal just as it was when Trump unsuccessfully tried it.”

Biden sought to justify his anti-immigrant action by claiming that Republicans “left [him] no choice” but to issue the order, citing a bipartisan bill that failed in Congress earlier this year after Trump pressured GOP lawmakers to block it. But critics have said that Biden is simply using migrants as political pawns to appease anti-immigrant voices on the right and secure a “win” during an election year — at the cost of placing thousands of people who are desperately seeking asylum in jeopardy.

The order “is just another step on a slippery slope toward the Trump-era Muslim and African asylum bans,” Melina Roche, #WelcomeWithDignity campaign manager, said about Biden’s action, adding:

Biden’s executive order is yet another step toward eliminating access to asylum at the border, violating U.S. law and putting protection-seeking migrants at risk in Mexico or in their home countries. Seeking asylum is a right in U.S. and international law. It should not be limited based on the number of migrants reaching the border, or the willingness of Mexico to accept expelled asylum-seeking migrants.

“We need our elected officials, especially the Biden Administration, to focus on real policy solutions to build a humane and functional immigration system, not on political posturing,” stated Annie Chen, director of the Advancing Universal Representation initiative at the Vera Institute of Justice. “Asylum-seeking immigrants are fleeing danger, not causing it — and President Biden said as much during the early years of his administration.”

Nicole Melaku, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), also denounced the order.

“We urge President Biden to reverse course and call on our members of Congress to reject these misguided approaches and instead implement humane, effective immigration policies that reflect our nation’s values of welcome, fairness, security, and promoting lives of dignity,” Melaku said.

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