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Immigration rights group voices concern over Biden's expected asylum rule change

An immigration attorney said the action likely won't hold up in federal court and accused the president of playing election-year politics.
Denver Migrants
Posted at 8:05 AM, Jun 04, 2024

President Joe Biden is expected to take executive action Tuesday that could limit the number of immigrants allowed to come into the country through the southern border.

The rule change would impact cities like Denver that have spent millions of dollars on immigrants over the past year and a half. While these changes have been expected for a while, some don’t believe it will solve the challenges with immigration.

“I think it's all politics,” said Christina Brown, an immigration attorney and executive director of the Colorado Asylum Center, which provides legal representation to immigrants and helps them navigate the asylum process. Brown added that she was disappointed to learn the president was considering the rule changes.

"I think it's unfortunate that this administration is once again politicizing asylum seekers and trying to, for what appears to be the upcoming presidential election,” Brown said.

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While the details are still being finalized, sources say it would limit the number of immigrants who could claim asylum if crossings at the border reach a certain level. It would require immigrants to return to Mexico and wait until the daily average of crossings falls.

“Honestly, there hasn’t been a lot of difference between the Biden and Trump administrations on immigration policies at the border,” Brown said.

Immigration continues to be one of the top issues voters are concerned about. More than 42,000 immigrants have come to Denver in the last year and a half and the city has spent over $70 million in taxpayer dollars to house and feed them.

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston said he didn't know about the president's plans when asked about it Monday.

“I must confess, I've not read it,” Johnston said. “I just saw the news alert on my phone the same way you have."

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U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper of Colorado called the actions “severe” but said it’s “a result of Republicans boycotting” a bipartisan deal that failed earlier this year.

“Our border would be far safer if Republicans weren’t putting their party’s campaign needs over our national security. We could’ve passed a bipartisan border bill to fix this crisis 118 days ago,” said Hickenlooper. “Today’s severe executive order is a result of Republicans boycotting a bill they demanded and negotiated. President Biden is doing what he must. But we could do far more, far better if Republicans actually cared to solve the crisis.”

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson said the crisis at the border wouldn’t be fixed by this change.

“President Biden has engineered a wide-open southern border and is now trying to convince Americans that he wants to address the chaos he created,” Johnson said. “The American people know better. He intentionally created this crisis and an executive order won’t change that.”

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Brown said immigrants seeking asylum have a right to do so under U.S. law and she doesn’t believe the rule change would hold up under legal scrutiny.

“It’s not legal and I cannot imagine that it would be held up in federal court,” Brown said.

She added that while politicians play politics, she’s thinking about the people forced to flee their homes who are now caught in the middle of this issue.

“I would urge people to show some compassion in the situation for people who literally have to give up everything to survive,” Brown said.

This story was originally published by Brandon Richard at Scripps News Denver.