A federal court in San Francisco has temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s new asylum ban, saying it violates existing law and would cause irreparable harm to immigrants.
Earlier this month, President Trump issued a proclamation saying anyone crossing the U.S. southern border without doing so through an official port would be ineligible for asylum. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Center for Constitutional Rights and others quickly filed lawsuits seeking to block the order. The plaintiffs’ complaint alleged the administration violated the Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, which maintains that if a person makes it to U.S. soil — even if they’ve crossed the border illegally — they are eligible to apply for asylum.
U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar agreed with the complaint in his ruling, issuing a temporary restraining order on the proclamation. “Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” he wrote. It “strains credulity” that an asylum-seeker’s manner of entry into the U.S. can be the sole factor in declaring them ineligible for asylum, he wrote.
“This ban is illegal, will put people’s lives in danger, and raises the alarm about President Trump’s disregard for separation of powers,” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, who argued the case, wrote in a statement. “There is no justifiable reason to flatly deny people the right to apply for asylum, and we cannot send them back to danger based on the manner of their entry. Congress has been clear on this point for decades,” his statement continued.
Southern Poverty Law Center lawyer Mary Bauer said she’d “talked to a dozen kids and they’ve all been there any number of weeks,” she said, “and they’ve all been told that if they try to get on the list [to get into the US for an asylum claim], they’ll be taken into custody.”
The allegations from Tijuana make it clear that the asylum ban actually affected unaccompanied children more than anyone — and made asylum literally unavailable to them. And even now, with the ban on hold, these children will have to find a way to cross into the US illegally — over newly mounted concertina wire — if they want a shot at asylum.
The Trump administration intends to keep fighting the asylum ban in hopes of getting the newly ensconced conservative majority on the Supreme Court to uphold it.