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Trump asylum ban is illegal, federal judge rules

Posted at 1:52 PM, Aug 02, 2019

A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Friday threw out a Trump administration policy barring migrants who illegally crossed the border from seeking asylum, finding that it violated the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The administration's policy, signed last November, aimed to temporarily bar migrants who illegally cross into the US through the southern border from seeking asylum outside of official ports of entry.

"[A]liens have a statutory right to seek asylum regardless of whether they enter the United States at a designated port of entry, and defendants may not extinguish that statutory right by regulation or proclamation," wrote District Judge Randolph Moss, an Obama appointee.

Late last year, a federal judge in California blocked Trump's asylum ban and the Supreme Court later upheld the judge's order.

"Today's decision is a big deal for what it portends -- that the administration's new asylum policy is likely to be wiped off the books," said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. "But its practical impact will be more modest, because the policy was already on hold thanks to a nationwide injunction against it from a California court -- one that the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, refused to stay last December."

Last December, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the four liberal justices in the 5-4 ruling.

Trump's asylum ban is part of a concerted effort by the administration to tighten asylum amid a record influx of children and families crossing the southern border.

In recent months, the administration has expanded its policy of requiring some asylum seekers to await their immigration hearings in Mexico, limited the number of asylum seekers who can enter a port of entry for processing each day, and introduced a new asylum rule that dramatically limits the ability of Central American migrants to claim asylum if they enter the US by land through Mexico.

Late last month, the same judge that blocked Trump's asylum ban, US District Judge Jon Tigar, also blocked the administration's new rule restricting asylum. The Trump administration has appealed the ruling.