Missouri is one of two states suing President Joe Biden over his decision to halt a Trump-era policy that required asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their claims were adjudicated.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, signed onto the lawsuit filed Tuesday by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
Paxton, a Republican, led the unsuccessful lawsuit seeking to to overturn Biden’s electoral victories in four states, an action Schmitt also backed.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday names Biden and several administration officials as defendants, including Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
Mayorkas said last month that the U.S. border agencies were on pace to encounter more migrants at the southern border than at any time in the last 20 years.
Mayorkas pointed to hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic as two factors driving the surge, but Republicans have blamed it on Biden’s decision to loosen restrictions on asylum seekers.
“The blame for the current crisis at the Southern border should be laid squarely at the feet of President Biden and his administration,” Schmitt said in a news release.
Within the first hours of taking office, Biden announced a pause to the Migration Protection Protocols, enacted under former President Donald Trump, which required asylum seekers at the southern border to remain in Mexico while their cases worked their way through the court system.
The policy faced criticism from human rights groups as asylum seekers faced violence and homelessness while remaining in Mexico. The U.S. Supreme Court was slated to hear oral arguments on the policy’s legality prior to its cancellation.
However, the complaint from Schmitt and Paxton argues that the policy’s elimination has put migrant communities at risk “as organized crime and drug cartels prey on migrant communities and children through human trafficking, violence, extortion, sexual assault, and exploitation.”
Missouri is roughly 900 miles from the border, but the lawsuit contends that with its “intersection of major interstate highway routes, Missouri is a major destination and hub for human trafficking.”
Representatives for the White House and DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.