Trump Administration Pledges To Appeal Ruling Blocking New Asylum Policy
By Jennifer G. Hickey | July 2019
The White House pledged on Thursday to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that blocked a new policy that would make migrants ineligible for asylum if they had first passed through a safe third country. The new asylum rule, which went into effect on July 16, would also require asylum officers and immigration judges to apply this new bar on asylum eligibility when administering the credible-fear screening process.
As has been the case with a majority of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, the rule was challenged in court by activists seeking a temporary restraining order to block the rule. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the District of Columbia denied the motion seeking an injunction in a lawsuit filed by the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). Hours later, however, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco, granted a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of the rule.
“Congress has ensured that the United States will remove an asylum applicant to a third country only if that country would be safe for the applicant and the country provides equivalent asylum protections to those offered here. The Rule provides none of these protections,” wrote Tigar, an Obama appointee, in his ruling.
“Congress authorized the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to establish categorical limitations on eligibility for asylum, and this rule properly used that authority to encourage migrants to seek asylum in other countries they have traveled through before reaching the United States,” said White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham in a statement issued Thursday.
“We intend to pursue all available options to address this meritless ruling and to defend this Nation’s borders,” she added.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights challenged the rule in the California court, which usually is a more favorable forum for pro-amnesty advocates – a fact not lost on the administration.
“The tyranny of a dysfunctional system that permits plaintiffs to forum shop in order to find a single district judge who will purport to dictate immigration policy to the entire Nation – even in the face of a contrary ruling by another Federal court – must come to an end,” said Grisham.
It was not unexpected that Judge Tigar would issue a ruling unfavorable to the Trump administration considering he blocked another asylum rule in 2018. The previous case involved a presidential proclamation issued on November 9, 2018 that would have prevented those migrants who crossed the border between ports of entry from seeking asylum.
Similar to his argument relating to the new asylum rule, Tigar asserted in his 2018 ruling that regardless of “the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.”
It may be that the Supreme Court has the final say on the new asylum rule.