CBP One App

The Controversial CBP One App: Asylum Seekers Challenge Federal Policy at the Border

The ongoing legal battle between asylum seekers and the Biden administration, as reported by Dorothy Atkins on Law360 on January 16, 2024, raises critical questions about the use of technology in immigration processes. Asylum seekers are challenging the government's reliance on a smartphone app, CBP One, to book appointments at the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing that it creates insurmountable barriers for many.

In their opposition brief, the plaintiffs, supported by immigrant rights organizations, contend that the Immigration and Nationality Act mandates the asylum system to be accessible to all arriving noncitizens, irrespective of technological barriers. They argue that the app's use excludes those without the right phone, language skills, or financial means to afford a data plan, thereby making asylum virtually inaccessible.

The case, filed in California, claims that the "CBP One Turnback Policy" violates both constitutional and international law, as well as U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's own guidelines. The guidelines, issued in November 2021, state that asylum seekers should not be required to submit information in advance to be processed at a port of entry. However, the plaintiffs allege that many noncitizens lack smartphones compatible with the app, face language barriers, are illiterate, or do not have experience with technology, making appointment booking impossible.

The federal government has argued that the case is moot since the suing asylum-seekers have already been inspected and processed, obtaining relief they sought when filing their lawsuit. They also assert that the federal agency has discretion to manage the intake of undocumented noncitizens at entry points, and the plaintiffs have failed to identify a cohesive agency policy for the court to evaluate.

This dispute highlights the complex intersection of immigration law, technology, and human rights. As an experienced immigration attorney and former immigration officer, I recognize the challenges that technological barriers can pose in accessing legal immigration processes. This case underscores the importance of ensuring that the asylum process remains accessible to all, regardless of their technological capabilities or resources.

For potential clients seeking immigration services, this case exemplifies the dynamic nature of immigration law and the importance of staying informed about current legal challenges and policies. It also stresses the need for legal representation that is both knowledgeable and sensitive to the unique challenges faced by immigrants, especially those seeking asylum.

In conclusion, the CBP One app controversy is a significant legal and humanitarian issue at the forefront of immigration law. It serves as a reminder of the need for policies that are inclusive and considerate of the diverse circumstances of all individuals seeking asylum in the United States. As a committed immigration attorney, I am dedicated to advocating for the rights of all immigrants and ensuring that legal processes are fair and accessible.


Dorothy Atkins, "Asylum-Seekers Slam Feds' Use Of 'Flawed' App At Border," Law360, January 16, 2024.

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