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A Republican effort to block an asylum rule put forward by the Biden administration failed in the Senate on Thursday — despite picking up the support of one moderate Democrat.
The joint resolution of disapproval, introduced under the Congressional Review Act, sought to remove a rule by the Biden administration that cuts asylum processing time from years to months by allowing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers, rather than immigration judges to hear asylum cases for migrants placed in expedited removal. The rule is set to go into effect in May.
The resolution was introduced last month by 30 Republican senators led by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and claimed that the rule “exacerbates” the border crisis. The group of lawmakers said that it would encourage fraudulent asylum claims and send a message to migrants that the border is open.
The resolution needed 50 votes to pass, but picked up 46 votes in favor, and 48 opposed. All Republicans who voted, as well as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., voted in favor of the resolution.
However, six senators, including four Republicans, were not present, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell changed his vote to no to allow another vote. That means that it could potentially pick up 51 votes in all Republicans were present. In a statement, Johnson’s office said that the Senate will hold the vote again “and will assert the Biden administration needs to follow the law, not further break it for their disastrous open border policies.”
“The Biden administration is sending a clear message: our borders are open, you will not be detained, and your asylum claim does not have to be heard by a judge,” Johnson said in a statement. “I strongly oppose the Biden administration’s brazen attempt to rewrite the asylum laws in America by executive fiat. The changes the administration is proposing can only be made by Congress. I’m pleased my resolution received bipartisan support and the Senate will be able hold another vote to disapprove of President Biden’s lawless power grab.”
The rule would mean that those migrants who claim they have a credible fear of being returned to their home country would have an interview with a USCIS officer who would determine whether they be granted asylum or referred to a judge for removal proceedings — which DHS said would also be streamlined. They would be paroled into the U.S. – which is allowed only for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit” – for that process.
The Biden administration has said it could shorten asylum cases from over five years currently to just months, which it claims would also allow for migrants to be removed quicker if they are found not to have a valid claim.
“The current system for handling asylum claims at our borders has long needed repair,” Mayorkas said in a statement in March. “Through this rule, we are building a more functional and sensible asylum system to ensure that individuals who are eligible will receive protection more swiftly, while those who are not eligible will be rapidly removed. We will process claims for asylum or other humanitarian protection in a timely and efficient manner while ensuring due process.”
But critics have warned that it will encourage more migrants to the border and that it will result in a more lax system where bogus asylum claims are green lit.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), said that the rule “will streamline but weaken the credible fear review process, resulting in a higher rate of aliens without adequate claims receiving protection from removal, which in turn, will only encourage more illegal immigration and fraudulent asylum claims.”
However, the resolution would also need to pass the Democratic-controlled House, which is unlikely. If it were to make it to the desk of President Biden, the White House has said it would veto it.
But it is the latest sign of opposition to the immigration policies of the Biden administration, which have recently focused on the planned repeal of the Title 42 public health order. That was blocked by a federal judge last week.
Fourteen Republican states, led by Arizona, Missouri and Louisiana, are also seeking to block the asylum rule, claiming it “eviscerates crucial safeguards to our nation’s immigration system and flouts clear statutory commands enacted by Congress.”
Fox News’ Kelly Laco contributed to this report.