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Federal Court Blocks Trump Administration's Asylum Ban

People wait in line outside the San Ysidro Port of Entry, between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, Calif., in October.
Ariana Drehsler AFP/Getty Images
People wait in line outside the San Ysidro Port of Entry, between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, Calif., in October.
Federal Court Blocks Trump Administration's Asylum Ban
Federal Court Blocks Trump Administration's Asylum Ban GUEST: Lily Jamali, co-host, The California Report

Our top story on Midday edition. A ruling from a federal judge in San Francisco has temporarily blocked an executive order from the Trump administration that limited asylum claims to people who crossed the U.S. Mexico border at ports of entry. In his decision U.S. District Judge John Tyger said the order violates law passed by Congress and would harm immigrants. This news comes of course days after thousands of Central American migrants arrived in Tijuana Lily Jamali host of KQED The California Report was in court yesterday and she joins me now. Hi Lily. Hi there. This case was brought by the ACLU and other civil rights organizations what were their arguments against the order. Many of the people that these organizations represent come from what's known as the Northern Triangle the countries of Guatemala Honduras and El Salvador. And many claim that they are fleeing violence and persecution. The argument for a temporary restraining order was pretty simple that this is a violation of immigration law that President Trump is overstepping onto the turf that belongs to Congress and Congress has made it very clear in the Immigration and Naturalization Act that it doesn't matter how a migrant gets here whether they cross through a legal port of entry or whether they cross between ports of entry in other words illegally. They are always entitled to at the very least apply for asylum. And what was the Justice Department's argument in favor of the order. The Justice Department essentially argued that there is a crisis on the border already when it comes to our immigration system when it comes to the processing of asylum claims. And they talk extensively about how this migrant caravan which you talked about earlier is only making that worse. And so you know the ACLU had also made the argument that part of the issue here was that President Trump didn't create a period of time for review and comment on this policy. Now the Trump administration is saying Yeah there isn't time to do that because this is an emergency this migrant caravan is on its way we have to do this right away. And in fact they did this about 11 days ago. And so that was the way that they justified doing this without any input from interested parties like the ACLU and other civil rights groups. And what did Judge John Tyger have to say. So in his ruling I I'll read you a quick statement from the judge's ruling Judge Tyger said whatever the scope of the president's authority. He may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden. So back to what we were talking about a moment ago that Congress has already put this on the books. It's it's in the law that they said asylum seekers are allowed to go through that process. They're allowed to apply regardless of how they arrive and the judge's statement that I just read really hits on another very important issue here which is separation of powers. President Trump he says here doesn't have the authority to rewrite the law that Congress has put in place. And it's interesting that this is coming from the judicial branch which has really been a thorn in the side of President Trump on several matters related to immigration. This case is taking place in San Francisco. And for now it's on the books for the next 28 days. The temporary restraining order that the ACLU got against this policy runs for 28 days and at that point all the parties go back to court to kind of start over what they're going to be looking for is a preliminary injunction and what that means is they're basically trying to get a permanent fix to make sure that this trump policy on asylum doesn't rear its head again and Lily does this ruling affect people who crossed illegally in the last week. It does and I think that there are somewhere on the order of about 105 people who have been detained between official crossings who have sought asylum since this order went into effect. So absolutely it does have an impact it would have had I should say an impact on those folks. But at this point it's a moot issue. And so what's next at this point. We will see the various parties involved in this case go back to U.S. District Court here in San Francisco in December. They're going to present once again before this very same judge. And we're also going to be looking to see what the Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirsten Nealson has to say about the ruling. I don't believe she has made a comment yet. We'll see if President Trump has anything to say one line of criticism that we may see is the fact that the judge in this case was appointed by President Obama. And so as you know it's not unusual for the president for President Trump to take the political approach when it comes to criticizing rulings like this one. I've been speaking with California Report Host Lily Jamali. Thank you so much for joining us Lily. Thank you so much for having me.

A federal court in San Francisco has temporarily blocked the Trump administration's new asylum ban, saying it violates existing law and would cause irreparable harm to immigrants.

Earlier this month, President Trump issued a proclamation saying anyone crossing the U.S. southern border without doing so through an official port would be ineligible for asylum.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Center for Constitutional Rights and others quickly filed lawsuits seeking to block the order.

Lawyers from the Justice Department argued that the president has "broad discretion to suspend the entry of aliens into the United States," saying in a court filing it is within the Trump administration's power to require asylum-seekers to present themselves at ports of entry.

The plaintiffs' complaint alleged the administration violated the Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, which maintains that if a person makes it to U.S. soil — even if they've crossed the border illegally — they are eligible to apply for asylum.

U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar agreed with the complaint in his ruling, issuing a temporary restraining order on the proclamation.

"Whatever the scope of the President's authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden," he wrote. "Defendants' claims that the rule can somehow be harmonized with the INA are not persuasive."

"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," the Obama-appointed judge continued.

It "strains credulity" that an asylum-seeker's manner of entry into the U.S. can be the sole factor in declaring them ineligible for asylum, he wrote.

Tigar also noted the immigrants the plaintiffs represent will suffer "irreparable injury" if the proclamation is put into full effect — asylum seekers would face increased risks of violence and other harms at the border, he wrote.

Trump first issued the proclamation on Nov. 9. Tigar's ruling will remain effective until Dec. 19.

"This ban is illegal, will put people's lives in danger, and raises the alarm about President Trump's disregard for separation of powers," ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, who argued the case, wrote in a statement.

"There is no justifiable reason to flatly deny people the right to apply for asylum, and we cannot send them back to danger based on the manner of their entry. Congress has been clear on this point for decades," his statement continued.

Amid reports of a caravan of Central American asylum-seekers primarily from the Honduras headed to the U.S., President Trump sent about 1,100 troops to the border earlier this month to assist border officials.

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