A federal court Tuesday night upheld a challenge to the Trump administration’s asylum restrictions, meaning a 2019 rule that requires applicants to apply for asylum closer to home.
United States District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the District of Columbia ruled in favor of immigrant non-profit organizations and asylum seekers, who argued that the rule’s eligibility known as the “Rule Third Country Asylum “, which was published jointly by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, erroneously violated the Immigration and Nationality Law.
Kelly agreed that in adopting the policy, the administration failed to comply with the Federal Administrative Procedure Act, which requires that Americans have sufficient time and opportunity to comment on such rule changes.
The Immigration and Nationality Act, the judge argued, generally allows anyone who has arrived in the United States to apply for asylum, with some exceptions, even for those with a criminal record.
“There are many circumstances in which the courts appropriately differ from the executive’s national security judgments,” Kelly wrote. “But determining the scope of an APA exception is not one of them.”
Tuesday night’s move is a hard blow to the administration’s toughest asylum policy and comes immediately after the June 18 decision by the United States Supreme Court to maintain the Deferred Action program for Arrivals in Childhood, which has allowed nearly 800,000 young people, known as Dreamers, to avoid deportation.
The third country rule seemed to be directed at Central American migrants who claimed they were fleeing gang violence. President Donald Trump has promised to stop migrant walks, including caravan calls, through Mexico.
The rule has essentially forced asylum-seeking migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to seek it first in Mexico before asking the United States for help.
“This decision invalidates Trump’s ‘asylum ban’ on the southern border,” former acting acting attorney general and MSNBC legal analyst Neal Katyal said on Twitter Tuesday night. “Judge Kelly’s decision, whom President Trump named on the bench in 2017, takes effect immediately.”
Katyal said he was part of the plaintiffs’ challenge.
The judge noted that the US Supreme Court blocked an earlier court order against the rule until the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the revocation of the rule.
The impact may not be felt immediately along the border between the United States and Mexico. Kelly wrote that “the recent administrative action related to the pandemic appears to have effectively closed the southern border indefinitely to foreigners seeking asylum.”
Last week, a federal judge in Los Angeles ordered the release of children detained in the country’s three family detention centers because of the danger posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Trump administration recorded a victory Thursday when the Supreme Court ruled that some asylum seekers can be expedited for deportation.