Republicans this week launched new attempts to prevent the Biden administration from changing the way asylum claims are handled at the southern border of the United States.
The demands are part of a day characterized by controversy over the country’s immigration policies. The Federal Government is defending the planned changes to asylum programs on all fronts. These include new rules that would enable asylum officials to grant or deny applications, an authority that has been limited to immigration judges for people arriving at the Mexican border.
Texas and Arizona have asked courts to block new proceedings that could decide asylum cases in months rather than years.
Thirteen states, all governed by Republicans, joined Arizona in a lawsuit filed in Louisiana. Texas filed a similar lawsuit.
“This is nothing more than a radical attempt to establish a system that encourages illegal immigration and undermines the rule of law,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has said the new procedures will reduce the burden on immigration courts, which are part of the Justice Department.
The Biden administration estimated last year that it would need to hire about 800 more staff for asylum officers to handle about 75,000 cases a year.
The United States has been the world’s most popular destination for asylum seekers since 2017, according to the UN refugee agency. This puts enormous pressure on the immigration courts. The number of pending cases has skyrocketed to almost 1.7 million.
The states involved in the lawsuit also sued to preserve Title 42, which denies immigrants the opportunity to apply for asylum on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.