Trump’s asylum ban overturned
A federal judge has put a temporary halt to a Trump administration order denying the possibility of asylum to people who enter the US illegally.
President Donald Trump issued the proclamation earlier in November as a matter of what he called national security as a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants made its way through Mexico towards the US border.
US district judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order on Monday against the Trump proclamation, thus granting a request from human rights groups who had sued shortly after the order was announced.
Under the proclamation, Trump said only people who enter the US at official checkpoints – as opposed to sneaking across the border – can apply for asylum.
Tigar wrote that the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 states that any foreigner who arrives in the US, “whether or not at a designated port of arrival”, may apply for asylum.
“The rule barring asylum for immigrants who enter the country outside a port of entry irreconcilably conflicts with the [Act] and the expressed intent of Congress,” Tigar wrote.
“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’s restraining order remains in effect until the court decides on the case.
Trump’s administration has argued that he has the executive power to curb immigration in the name of national security – a power he invoked right after taking office last year with a controversial ban on travellers from several mostly Muslim countries.
The final version of the order was upheld by the US Supreme Court on June 26 after a protracted legal battle.
When the new policy was announced by the department of homeland security on November 8, a senior administration official said it would address what he called the “historically unparalleled abuse of our immigration system” along the border with Mexico.
Administration officials say anyone who manages to get across can request asylum and subsequently often vanish while their case sits in the court system.
Human rights campaigners say that by restricting asylum seekers to border crossing points – which are already under pressure – the government is effectively shutting the door on people who may truly be fleeing for their lives.
“The government cannot abdicate its responsibility towards migrants fleeing harm,” the New York Immigration Coalition advocacy group said.
Meanwhile, huge metal or concrete barricades and walls of concertina wire went up Monday on both sides of the US-Mexico border as the caravan poured into Tijuana, the last stop before California.
US authorities went so far as to briefly close the San Ysidro Port of Entry altogether as the new barriers were set up, triggering total gridlock for vehicles and pedestrians going from Tijuana across into San Diego.