White House hails judge's decision to allow asylum restrictions to continue

The White House on Wednesday praised a federal judge who ruled against blocking the Trump administration's effort to restrict Central American migrants’ ability to apply for asylum in the U.S.

"Today’s ruling in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia is a victory for Americans concerned about the crisis at our southern border," press secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote in a statement. "The court properly rejected the attempt of a few special interest groups to block a rule that discourages abuse of our asylum system."

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"Tens of thousands of migrants making opportunistic asylum claims have not only exacerbated the crisis at our southern border but also have harmed genuine asylum seekers, who are forced to wait years for relief because our system is clogged with meritless claims."

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the District of Columbia ruled against an injunction request from Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services earlier Wednesday.

The case was the first legal challenge to the rule announced earlier this month by the departments of Justice and Homeland Security that would make asylum-seekers who pass through another country before reaching the U.S. ineligible for asylum.

There are exceptions in the rule for victims of trafficking. It also allows exceptions for migrants passing through countries that have not signed major international refugee treaties and for migrants who have been denied asylum in the countries they traveled through.

The rule would primarily effect Central American immigrants crossing through Mexico.

The two immigrants rights groups promised to continue seeking legal recourse to block the rule despite Kelly's ruling.

"This new rule is contrary to our laws and we will continue to challenge this attempt to remove asylum eligibly from those who are fleeing violence and persecution around the world,” Claudia Cubas, Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition’s litigation director, said in a statement.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a similar challenge to the rule in San Francisco court and is set to deliver arguments Wednesday.

The Trump administration has aggressively pursued efforts to tighten asylum rules and limit immigration, all of which have been met with legal challenges.