Attorney General Bonta Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Uphold Humanitarian Protections for Asylum Seekers

Monday, March 21, 2022
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Blasts Texas-led effort to undermine the kinds of programs that could allow Ukrainians fleeing violence and destruction to enter the United States

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in Biden v. Texas in support of President Biden’s efforts to rescind the Trump Administration's harmful restrictions on the asylum process. In the amicus brief, the coalition highlights the states’ interest in protecting the rights of those seeking safety in the United States and the importance of the federal government's discretion to permit certain immigrants to enter or remain in the country for humanitarian purposes. The brief urges the high court to overturn an erroneous Fifth Circuit decision leaving in place the Trump Administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, commonly known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Under the policy, asylum seekers are forced to remain in Mexico during the pendency of their asylum cases and face significant hurdles to pursuing their claims, including limited access to counsel and the increased risk that they will be victims of violence.

“This Texas-led attack on our asylum system is shameful and contrary to our core American values,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The federal government needs the ability to respond quickly and effectively to emerging humanitarian disasters. Whether it’s vulnerable children from El Salvador or Ukrainian families fleeing war, everyone deserves a chance to safely and lawfully seek protection. I urge the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn this flawed appellate decision. It’s time for a return to decency and for our nation to treat every person with respect.”

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the federal executive branch has — dating back to the Eisenhower Administration — long exercised its authority to allow immigrants and asylum seekers to enter the United States while their immigration claims are being processed. Over the last half century, the federal government has effectively established several programs that provide a safe, legal, and orderly path for individuals to join their families and seek protection in the United States. Under President Eisenhower, the federal government, for instance, allowed approximately 15,000 Hungarian refugees fleeing their country to enter the United States following the Soviet invasion in response to the Hungarian Revolution. Other such efforts have included Haitian Family Reunification Parole, Cuban Family Reunification Parole, Filipino World War II Veterans Parole, and Central American Minors Refugee and Parole. The Texas-led lawsuit currently before the U.S. Supreme Court threatens to undermine the federal government’s ability to enact the kinds of critical programs that could help Ukrainians fleeing violence and destruction today enter the United States.

In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts:

  • The appellate court’s decision rests on a flawed understanding of the executive branch’s parole power;
  • The appellate court’s decision harms the states and their communities, depriving them of the significant contributions of immigrants; and
  • The U.S. Supreme Court should reverse the appellate court’s decision.

In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.

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