President Trump latest move to stop a thousands-strong migrant caravan from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has just been halted by the legal system.
Trump, in an effort to deter caravan members from illegally crossing into the U.S., ordered a blanket refusal to accept asylum claims. He instead said anyone from the caravan wishing to claim asylum should go through port of entries along the border and enter legally.
U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, a judge appointed by former President Obama in 2012, struck down the order which barred the immigrants from entering the country through any means necessary to claim asylum.
BuzzFeed News has more:
A federal judge in San Francisco on Monday questioned the legality of the Trump administration’s new restrictions on asylum-seekers, suggesting to government attorneys that the new regulations undermined Congress’s message when it passed legislation on who can apply for asylum.
At one point during the hearing, US District Judge Jon Tigar, who was nominated to the court by former president Barack Obama, asked Department of Justice attorney Scott Stewart that if the Immigration and Nationality Act states that all individuals can apply for asylum regardless of where they enter the United States, but the administration’s policy blocks those who enter illegally from receiving asylum, then “what’s left of that expression of congressional intent?”
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“Isn’t that inconsistent with the stated goal?” Tigar asked about government claims that limiting asylum-seekers to ports of entry would result in a more orderly process.
In early November, President Trump signed a proclamation intended to limit granting asylum only to people who present themselves at a port of entry, as opposed to crossing into the United States anywhere along the Mexican border and then seeking asylum from any Border Patrol agent they encountered. The order directed administration officials to recommend within 90 days whether the policy should continue.
The Northern California District Judge definitively said, via the Washington Post: “Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.”
The judge then noted that Trump’s requirement that asylum-seekers enter through port of entries was irrelevant to the asylum process.
“Failure to comply with entry requirements such as arriving at a designated port of entry should bear little, if any, weight in the asylum process,” Tigar said.
The rule pursued by the Trump administration would allow only people who cross at legal checkpoints on the southern border to request asylum, while those entering elsewhere would be able to seek a temporary form of protection that is harder to win and doesn’t yield full citizenship. The changes would amount to a transformation of long-established asylum procedures, codified both at the international level and by Congress.
In his proclamation, Trump said the changes were necessary to prepare for the caravan’s arrival, arguing that asylum seekers had no “lawful basis for admission into our country.” In justifying the policy, the administration relied on the same emergency authority invoked as grounds for the “travel ban.”
In a hearing Monday, Scott Stewart, a lawyer for the Justice Department, spoke of a “crushing strain” of migrants attempting to cross the border illegally. He alleged that most asylum claims were “ultimately meritless.”
Various reports say as many as several thousand members from the migrant caravan are waiting in Tijuana. The Trump administration would have to act quickly should they seek to implement any other immigration orders to deter their crossing into the U.S.