Judge blocks Trump from denying asylum to migrants entering US illegally

A federal judge late Monday blocked the Trump administration from denying asylum to migrants who enter the U.S. illegally.

Judge Jon Tigar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California sided with opponents of President Trump’s policy, granting their request for a temporary restraining order.

“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 Obama appointee wrote in his 37-page ruling.

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The administration’s claim that its policy can be harmonized with the Immigration and Naturalization Act is unpersuasive, Tigar wrote.

If the rule were allowed to take effect while the case plays out in court, Tigar said the challengers — East Bay Sanctuary Covenant and three other organization that help refugees — would suffer irreparable injury.

“Asylum seekers will be put at increased risk of violence and other harms at the border, and many will be deprived of meritorious asylum claims,” he said. “The government offers nothing in support of the new rule that outweighs the need to avoid these harms.”

Trump earlier this month clamped down on asylum claims as part of his broader efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.

The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security had earlier published a joint rule prohibiting certain people caught crossing the U.S. southern border from Mexico between ports of entry from claiming asylum.

"Our asylum system is overwhelmed with too many meritless asylum claims from aliens who place a tremendous burden on our resources," acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenFamily of migrant girl who died in federal custody calls for 'transparent and neutral' investigation Former GOP lawmaker on death of 7-year-old migrant girl: Message should be ‘don't make this journey, it will kill you' Young girl's death draws new scrutiny over US treatment of migrants MORE said in a joint statement at the time.

The rule was opposed by immigration activists and civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Center for Constitutional Rights.

“This ban is illegal, will put people’s lives in danger, and raises the alarm about President TrumpDonald John TrumpReturn hope to the Middle East by returning to the Iran Deal Government shutdowns tend to increase government spending 'Full Frontal' gives six-bedroom house to group that works with detained immigrants MORE’s disregard for separation of powers," ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, who argued the case, said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”

Baher Azmy, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, added that the law "couldn't be clearer" in stating that asylum claims are expressly allowed for individuals who enter the country through a manner besides a legal port of entry.

“Individuals are entitled to asylum if they cross between ports of entry,” he said.

The asylum crackdown came as a caravan of Central American migrants moved northward through Mexico toward the U.S. border.

Ahead of this month's midterms, Trump focused his rhetoric on immigration and the caravan itself, but he has been largely quiet about the migrants since the elections took place.

Tigar’s temporary restraining order will remain in effect until either Dec. 19. or further order from the court.

Kyle Balluck contributed.

--Updated at 10:22 a.m. 

Read judge's ruling by kballuck1 on Scribd