Federal court reinstates block on Trump administration’s asylum ban
WASHINGTON – Monday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled to reinstate a nationwide injunction on a Trump administration policy that would have blocked most asylum applications for migrants transiting through other countries on their way to the U.S.-Mexican border.
“The question now before the court is whether those harms can be addressed by any relief short of a nationwide injunction. The answer is that they cannot,” wrote District Judge Jon Tigar in his order in East Bay v. Barr.
Tigar noted the need for “uniform immigration policy” and potential complications if the injunction were limited to only a part of the country, as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August.
The joint Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice policy, which was published in mid-July, would have banned most Central American migrants from applying for asylum in the U.S. if they did not apply for asylum first in Mexico or another third country.
Several immigrant service groups filed a lawsuit against the federal government and were granted a preliminary injunction blocking the rule by Judge Tigar.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham released a statement on Monday describing Tigar’s ruling as a “gift to human smugglers and traffickers and it undermines the rule of law.”
“Immigration and border security policy cannot be run by any single district court judge who decides to issue a nationwide injunction,” she said.
Grisham said the administration’s request to the Supreme Court to set aside the district court’s injunction remains pending, adding “we look forward to it acting on our request.”
In a Sept. 5 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Attorney General William Barr also criticized the practice of lower federal courts issuing nationwide injunctions and suggested the administration would continue to pursue litigation against them in the appeals courts and the Supreme Court.
“It is indeed well past time for our judiciary to re-examine a practice that embitters the political life of the nation, flouts constitutional principles, and stultifies sound judicial administration, all at the cost of public confidence in our institutions,” Barr wrote.
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Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who argued the case, said in a statement, “The court recognized there is grave danger facing asylum-seekers along the entire stretch of the southern border.”
“Every single time this administration comes up with what we believe is a legal rule or policy that ends up getting legally enjoined, it’s very frustrating,” Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said at a White House briefing Monday. “We keep having to go outside the box to come up with new policy, new regulations because this Congress won’t do their job.”
The Trump administration attempted to clamp down on asylum applications as part of a broader crackdown on immigration. The administration’s policy changes have been met with fierce legal challenges by immigrant advocacy groups.