Following SPLC lawsuit, judge blocks president’s asylum ban

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the Trump administration from denying asylum to migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border between ports of entry.

“This is a critical step in fighting back against President Trump’s war on asylum seekers,” said Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney at the SPLC. “While the new rule purports to facilitate orderly processing of asylum seekers at ports of entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has a longstanding policy and practice of turning back individuals who do exactly what the rule prescribes. These practices are clearly unlawful and cannot stand.”

The court order, which was issued late yesterday, is the result of a lawsuit the SPLC filed against the Trump administration earlier this month. The lawsuit charges the administration with violating the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) and the Administrative Procedure Act.

The court order is a nationwide injunction that temporarily prohibits the government from continuing to implement the asylum ban. The decision held that the new rule “irreconcilably conflicts with the INA and the expressed intent of Congress.” 

The decision also said the rule would cause irreparable harm to the plaintiff organizations and their clients, and would result in the denial of asylum to many individuals with meritorious claims.

The lawsuit – East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Trump – was filed in federal court in San Francisco on Nov. 9. It was brought on behalf of East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Al Otro Lado, Innovation Law Lab, and the Central American Resource Center.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights (“CCR”) joined the SPLC in challenging the new asylum ban.

A related lawsuit filed by the SPLC, CCR and the American Immigration Council challenges CBP’s policy and practice of turning back asylum seekers who present themselves at ports of entry. That case, Al Otro Lado v. Nielsen, was filed in July 2017, and is currently pending in federal court in San Diego.

Photo by Todd Bigelow