(Reuters) – Texas filed a lawsuit on Thursday claiming a new rule meant to speed up asylum processing and deportations at the U.S.-Mexico border is unlawful, in the state’s latest challenge to Biden-era immigration policies.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office said in a complaint filed in federal court in Amarillo that the rule adopted last month by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security improperly shifts the powers of immigration judges to asylum officers who conduct interviews with asylum applicants.
The rule, which takes effect in late May, will authorize asylum officers to accept or reject migrants’ claims for protection soon after they cross the border, resolving them in months rather than years by bypassing backlogged U.S. immigration courts.
Paxton in a statement said the rule will incentivize more people to seek to obtain asylum “through false claims and less oversight.”
“It’s true that our immigration system is extremely backlogged. But the answer is to secure the border, not overwhelm it even more by enacting cheap, easy incentives for illegal aliens to get into the United States,” Paxton said.
DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Paxton’s office said it has now filed 27 lawsuits challenging Biden administration rules, 11 of which involve immigration policies.
In one of those cases, a federal judge in Louisiana on Monday said he would block the administration’s plan to lift pandemic restrictions on border crossings.
Texas has also won rulings blocking a moratorium on deportations and reviving a Trump-era policy allowing border officials to send migrants to Mexico to await immigration court proceedings. The U.S Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in the Biden administration’s appeal of the decision involving the so-called “remain in Mexico” policy.
The state in Thursday’s lawsuit says federal immigration law vests the ability to make final decisions on asylum applications exclusively with immigration judges, and the new rule unlawfully extends that power to asylum officers.
Texas also says the rule violates the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution by transferring duties granted to political appointees to asylum officers, who are career civil servants.
The case is Texas v. Mayorkas, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, No. 2:22-cv-00094.
For Texas: Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz
For the Biden administration: Not available