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Appeals court says new asylum restrictions at the border can stay in place for now

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

An appeals court handed the Biden administration a win yesterday when it allowed a rule restricting asylum at the southern border to stay in place temporarily. The White House argued that the rule helps control the flow of migration at the border. Set to end on Monday, the policy requires migrants to first seek asylum in the country they're traveling through or to apply online for asylum in the U.S. It does not apply to children traveling alone. For more on what this decision means, I'm joined now by Hamed Aleaziz, who covers immigration policy for the Los Angeles Times. Thanks for being here.

HAMED ALEAZIZ: Thank you for having me.

FADEL: So if you could start by talking about what this policy is meant to do and how it ended up in court.

ALEAZIZ: Yeah. This policy is a way for the Biden administration, they say, to try to limit border crossings and incentivize migrants seeking asylum to go to ports of entry and, like you mentioned, applying to enter the U.S. through a app on their phones, as opposed to crossing without authorization. But immigrant advocates and lawyers have argued that this is an unlawful policy that limits asylum and is, in many ways, comparative to policies that we saw during the Trump administration.

FADEL: How has this rule impacted people seeking asylum in the U.S.?

ALEAZIZ: Well, we saw some data in late June that showed that initial screenings for asylum had dropped from - you know, historical rates from 83% to 46%. And the administration felt like this was proof that this policy was working. And they argued to a federal court that without these new limits, border crossings could really overwhelm local towns and resources and that this was essential for their efforts to, again, try to incentivize migrants to go to ports of entry and not cross without authorization.

FADEL: Now, you mentioned immigrant rights groups were arguing that this is unlawful. How have they responded to the appeals court ruling?

ALEAZIZ: I think there's disappointment in the, you know, decision to stay the federal judge's initial ruling blocking this policy. But it's important to note that this fight is not over. They'll have a chance in the 9th Circuit to, you know, argue in a few weeks. And there will be hearings probably later in September or October over this policy in the 9th Circuit. So they'll have a chance at that point to try to convince this appeals panel that they need to, you know, stop this policy.

FADEL: Now, if you could put this into context for us, this particular rule, how does it fit into the Biden administration's vision for immigration policy?

ALEAZIZ: Look, I mean, I think this is for them quite essential. It's a way for them to try to, you know, advertise to migrants seeking asylum, coming to the southern border that if you cross the southern border and you do it in a way that is, you know, without authorization, like I mentioned, you will face consequences. And they felt like without that type of message, without this type of policy, they could be in a really difficult situation. And they have said in court filings that there were migrants waiting in Mexico trying to understand the effects of this policy and whether or not they, you know, would be facing consequences.

FADEL: Hamed Aleaziz covers immigration for the LA Times. Thank you so much for your time.

ALEAZIZ: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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