Judge Reinstates Nationwide Injunction on Trump Asylum Rule

Judge Reinstates Nationwide Injunction on Trump Asylum Rule

A federal judge on Monday issued a nationwide order barring a Trump administration policy that denies asylum to migrants crossing the border unless they have already tried and failed to obtain asylum in another country along the way, a rule that effectively bans claims for most Central Americans fleeing persecution and poverty.

Judge Jon S. Tigar of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California reinstated a nationwide injunction preventing implementation of the new asylum policy in response to a federal appeals court ruling that had limited his original ruling’s scope to border states in the West.

Judge Tigar made findings, as outlined by the appellate judges, that applying the injunction across the country was necessary to maintain a “uniform immigration policy” and prevent “uneven enforcement.” Under the previous ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the administration had been prohibited from applying the new asylum limitations in California and Arizona, but not in New Mexico and Texas.

“We just sent an email to people on the ground in Texas saying, ‘Make sure none of your clients are subjected to this asylum ban,’” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and the lead lawyer on this case. “Because up to this morning, people were being denied asylum automatically if they traveled through another country.”

Mr. Gelernt argued that migrants did not have access to fully functioning asylum systems in countries like Mexico and Guatemala. Moreover, he said, migrants could be easily found in such places by the people they are fleeing.

“It’s too dangerous for people to wait around in those countries,” he said. “For many people, this would have effectively been like a death sentence.”

He called the new administration policy “just another in a series of attempts by the administration to effectively end asylums for Central Americans at the southern border.”

In a Supreme Court brief, the solicitor general, Noel J. Francisco, said the new policy was needed to address “an unprecedented surge in the number of aliens who enter the country unlawfully across the southern border and, if apprehended, claim asylum and remain in the country while their claims are adjudicated.”

Under the policy, only immigrants who have been denied asylum in another country or who have been victims of “severe” human trafficking are permitted to apply in the United States. “The rule thus screens out asylum seekers who declined to request protection at the first opportunity,” Mr. Francisco wrote.

Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said on Monday that he was frustrated with the asylum ruling by Judge Tigar, who was nominated by President Barack Obama, and the “unprecedented judicial activism we’ve experienced.”

“Every time this administration comes up with what we believe is a legal rule or policy that we believe will address this crisis, we just end up getting enjoined,” Mr. Morgan said at a White House briefing. “It’s frustrating, but we’ll just have to keep going.”

Adam Liptak and Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting.

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