West Virginia joins lawsuit

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CHARLESTON, W. Va.–West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has joined a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s new rule letting asylum officers, rather than immigration judges, decide whether to grant asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Again, this shows the Biden administration’s utter disregard for securing our southern border, this time by largely eliminating the process wherein asylum seekers must appear before a judge to prove their asylum claims,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Instead, this administration is releasing illegal immigrants into our communities without any checks on their backgrounds. We are basically turning a blind eye to those who have violated our laws.”

Under the plan, which is scheduled to take effect May 31, the entire adjudicatory system for asylum grants is scrapped. The rule instead empowers asylum officers under the Department of Homeland Security to grant asylum in the first instance.

Since 1983, immigration judges within the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) have adjudicated nearly all asylum claims. In comparison, asylum officers within the Department of Homeland Security have had the authority only to conduct an initial screening of aliens’ asylum claims, called “credible fear” review.

According to the lawsuit, the listed defendants, which include Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, are attempting to put into force this change “even though, under our current system, less than 15 percent of all asylum claims that pass DHS’s notoriously lax initial credible fear review are ultimately approved by IJs (immigration judges) in the EOIR. EOIR review thus provides an essential safeguard against granting fraudulent and otherwise unmeritorious asylum claims—which the Asylum IFR (Interim Final Rule) intends to abolish. The entirely predictable result will be a substantial increase in the approval rate of non-meritorious asylum claims, and that increase in approval rates will incentivize even higher rates of illegal immigration into the United States.”

According to the IFR, asylum-seekers also could be released into the country – instead of being held in custody – pending the outcome of their cases.

If the asylum officer denies the claim, the asylum seeker can then appeal the case to an immigration judge.

Attorney General Morrisey joined this Arizona-led lawsuit with his counterparts in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.