PHOENIX – A U.S. judge on Friday blocked the most comprehensive set of asylum restrictions for the Trump administration, less than two weeks before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
The rules were put into effect on Monday. The court order had limited immediate effect because the government largely stopped work Asylum at the US-Mexico border during the coronavirus pandemic, Citing public health concerns.
However, leaving the rules in effect would have been felt by some who still could claim asylum and make it more difficult for all asylum seekers once the pandemic-related measures were lifted.
President Donald Trump’s administration has argued that the measures were an appropriate response to a system rife with abuse and overshadowed by unworthy allegations.
They have sought to redefine how people qualify for asylum and similar forms of humanitarian protection if they face persecution at home. The restrictions broadened the grounds on which a judge could deem asylum applications “absurd” and prevented applicants from obtaining any protection in the United States.
U.S. District Court Judge James Donato in San Francisco sided with advocacy groups that filed a lawsuit, saying that the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf lacked the authority to enforce blanket rules.
Donato, appointed by President Barack Obama to the post in 2013, wrote that Wolff’s appointment violated the established system of succession. He said it was the fifth time that a court ruled against Internal Security for the same reasons.
“The government has recycled exactly the same legal and factual allegations that were presented in previous cases, as if they had not been properly rejected in opinions justified by several courts,” Donato wrote. “This is a troubling litigation strategy. In fact, the government keeps hitting the same car into the gate, hoping it will one day penetrate.”
Donato said his ruling applies nationally because restricting his access “would lead to a fragmented and disjointed mixture of immigration policy.”
It was not immediately clear if the Trump administration would make an emergency appeal. The Justice Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Friday.
Aaron Frankel, the plaintiffs’ attorney, described the rules as “nothing less than an attempt to end the asylum system.”
Asylum is legal protection designed for people fleeing persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, or membership in a social group. Any foreigner entering the United States has a legal right to apply for asylum, in accordance with US asylum law and international treaty obligations.
The rules will narrow down the types of persecution and the severity of the threats against which asylum is granted. Applicants seeking protection on the basis of gender or those claiming to have been targeted by gangs, “rogue” government officials, or “NGOs” may not be eligible for asylum.
Immigration judges will be directed to be more selective in granting asylum applications and allow them to reject most applications without a court hearing.
They would also have assessed several new factors against the applicant’s ability to win protection, among them failure to pay taxes. Criminal records are still counted against an asylum seeker even if their conviction is removed.
Under the epidemic-related measures in effect since March, nine out of 10 people arrested at the border are immediately expelled for reasons of public health. The rest is processed under immigration laws, which include the right to seek asylum.
Donato objected to how people came to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Wolf became Acting Secretary in November 2019, replacing Kevin McCallinan, who was also in the acting role. Courts ruled that Woolf had improperly jumped to the top of his position as Under Secretary for Strategies, Policies, and Plans.
Donato, like the other judges, said that McLennan, who had previously been the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, was also promoted to the top job in Homeland Security, making his handover to Woolf “having no legal effect whatsoever.”
Homeland Security has been without a certified Senate secretary since Kerstin Nielsen resigned in April 2019.
While the Trump administration faced a legal setback, it has already put in place a raft of policies restricting asylum, including having asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their claims are considered in a US court.
Biden is expected to reverse some of Trump’s restrictive asylum measures, including the “stay in Mexico” policy, but recently said his administration would need “likely in the next six months” to re-establish a system that could process asylum seekers to prevent the flow of migrants arriving at the border. Southern.
Also Friday, the 4th U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia ruled against the administration’s policy that gave state and local governments the right to refuse to resettle refugees.
The three-judge panel said Trump’s executive order requiring state and local entities to grant their consent before permitting refugee status in their areas would undermine the 1980 Refugee Act. This Congressional law was designed to allow resettlement agencies to find the best place for a person to thrive while Work with local and state officials.