New Trump asylum restrictions face first legal test

Date: July, 22, 2019 The Trump administration’s new rule limiting asylum protections for most Central American migrants at the southern border faced its first legal test on Monday in federal court in Washington, D.C., less than a week after the policy went into effect. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, heard arguments on whether he should issue a temporary restraining order to block enforcement of the rule, which says asylum cannot be granted to migrants who travel through another country before reaching the U.S. The rule was announced July 15 and went into effect on Tuesday. Kelly was thorough in his line of questioning and the hearing lasted for well over three hours. The courtroom was full at the start of the proceedings, but less than a third of the seats were taken as the judge brought the hearing to a close. Mitchell Reisch, an attorney representing Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) and the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, argued that the rule would cause irreparable harm to the groups, as it would make it harder for them to help asylum-seekers and reduce the number of migrants they would be able to assist. He also claimed the organizations are quickly shuffling resources to address the new rule, characterizing it as an “across-the-board reshaping” of operations. But Justice Department lawyer Scott Stewart dismissed much of the groups’ claims as speculative. He pointed to the groups’ filing their lawsuit the day the rule went into effect, as well as the fact they weren’t representing any migrants impacted by the rule to argue they have not suffered irreparable harm and did not require the restraining order. Stewart argued that by limiting the number of migrants who can claim asylum the rule actually benefits the organizations. He said that they will be able to “represent more people who are truly deserving” of receiving asylum. Reisch pushed back, saying that the groups want to make sure that as many people as possible who deserve asylum receive it, and that the new rule will prevent that from happening. It’s unclear how Kelly will rule, but he may have to weigh another judge’s decisions in whatever order he issues: The American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights are also asking a federal judge in the Northern District of California for a temporary restraining order blocking the rule. U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, an Obama appointee, has scheduled a hearing for early next month in federal court in San Francisco. He has asked the groups why he should issue a temporary restraining order and not rule on whether to issue a preliminary injunction in the case. Stewart suggested that Kelly could issue a ruling that was not applicable nationwide but only impacted areas where the immigration groups in the D.C. court operated. But Reisch said such a ruling would be unfair, as it would randomly impact some asylum-seekers and not others. Read more at: