- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 28, 2022

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit Thursday to try to stop Homeland Security‘s new policy that will make it easier for migrants to claim asylum in the U.S., saying the president and his team are breaking immigration law.

Mr. Paxton said the law gives the power to decide asylum cases to immigration judges in the Justice Department. He said the new Biden policy tries to shift initial decisions to bureaucrats in Homeland Security instead.

That not only violates the law but also will invite more immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally to make the attempt because Homeland Security officers are likely to be more lenient in granting petitions, he said.

“I protested the proposed version of these rules back in October 2021, and, unsurprisingly, Biden found a way to make it worse, so I’m suing,” Mr. Paxton said. “The last thing Texas needs is for this administration to make it easier for illegal aliens to enter the U.S. and obtain asylum through false claims and less oversight.”

Hours after Mr. Paxton announced his lawsuit, a coalition of other Republican attorneys general, led by Mark Brnovich from Arizona, filed a separate lawsuit also challenging the asylum rule.

“This is nothing more than a radical attempt to set up a system that encourages illegal immigration and undermines the rule of law,” Mr. Brnovich said.

DHS issued the new asylum policy as a regulation and it is slated to be phased in next month.

“This is a game changer,” he told Congress on Wednesday.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said the asylum changes will make the system more fair, and should speed up decisions on cases.

He said asylum claims currently take six to eight years to go through the immigration courts. Mr. Mayorkas said they should be completed in a year under his new plan.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Homeland Security agency that oversees asylum, has been hiring officers for months in anticipation of the policy.

Asylum has become the “loophole” in the U.S. immigration system, chiefly because of how long cases take to decide. Some immigrants claim asylum and remain in the country for years, which makes it more difficult for them to be deported if a judge rules against the claim.

Most asylum seekers’ cases are unsuccessful, according to Homeland Security data.

Under the current system, border jumpers are put into deportation proceedings, but if they express a “credible fear” of being sent home they are given a chance to make an asylum claim. Homeland Security officers make the credible fear decision. 

Migrants have been coached on using the right “magic words” to prove credible fear, earning a pass into the country. Their cases then are supposed to shift to immigration judges.

Under the changes that Mr. Paxton is challenging, Homeland Security officers would make not only the first credible fear determination but then rule on the asylum claim itself. If a migrant’s claim is denied, the case then would go to immigration judges for an appeal.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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