Judge stops Trump from enforcing asylum ban
A federal judge has ruled the Trump administration must allow people who cross into the US without papers between official ports of entry (committing the misdemeanor of illegal entry) to seek asylum, putting a temporary hold on President Trump’s November 9 asylum ban.
The ruling from Judge Jon S. Tigar of the Northern District of California, which came late Monday night, is the latest in a series of rulings coming out of West Coast courtrooms against the Trump administration’s immigration policy.
While it’s a temporary move, Tigar’s ruling shows the judge is extremely skeptical that the asylum ban will ultimately be found legal. The judge sees the ban as a violation of the clause in federal immigration law that allows someone to seek asylum “whether or not” they arrive at an official port of entry.
“Whatever the scope of the President’s authority,” Tigar wrote, “he may not rewrite the asylum laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.”
The asylum ban is arguably the most legally aggressive move the Trump administration has made on immigration, so Tigar’s order putting a temporary hold on it isn’t a surprise. Even people within the administration assumed the ban would be put on hold by lower courts.
What the White House hopes is that the newly ensconced conservative majority on the Supreme Court will side with the president — and that the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to do that soon.
The administration’s aim is to limit asylum to people who present themselves at ports of entry. But that wait already stretches days, weeks or even months at certain ports. Under the asylum ban, people unable to wait that long would essentially have to choose between immediate protection (of a lesser and riskier form) and a monthslong wait to start the process for full asylum rights.
Now, crossing between ports of entry won’t force migrants to give up their chance at asylum. But their access to it will still depend on the discretion of an administration that is on the record, and in court, arguing that they shouldn’t be allowed to apply for it.
Tigar’s ruling is an indication that he feels the asylum ban may violate the clause in federal law that allows people to apply for asylum “whether or not at a designated port of arrival.”
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