White House says judge blocking order on asylum-seekers 'at war' with rule of law

The White House on Wednesday condemned a federal judge in Seattle who blocked an order from the administration allowing for the indefinite detention of some asylum-seekers, claiming that the ruling “is at war with the rule of law.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed in a statement that the ruling, which she characterized as being issued by “a single, unelected district judge,” will only motivate “smugglers and traffickers, which will lead to the further overwhelming of our immigration system by illegal aliens.”

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“No single district judge has legitimate authority to impose his or her open borders views on the country,” Grisham continued. “We must restore our democracy and ensure Americans have the voice to which they are entitled under our Constitution.”

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman on Tuesday found that an order issued by Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet House poised to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Harris campaign accepts money from partners of law firm she criticized over Epstein case MORE authorizing the indefinite detention of certain asylum-seekers during immigration proceedings was unconstitutional and blocked it from going into effect.

“The decision ignores an express statutory prohibition on granting class-wide injunctive relief against enforcement of the immigration laws and also holds unconstitutional a statute passed by bipartisan majorities in Congress during the Clinton administration that specifically prohibits the release of certain immigrants on bond,” Grisham said on Wednesday.

Pechman, a Clinton appointee, wrote in her ruling that indefinitely holding asylum-seekers is unconstitutional.

“The Court finds that Plaintiffs have established a constitutionally-protected interest in their liberty, a right to due process which includes a hearing before a neutral decisionmaker to assess the necessity of their detention, and a likelihood of success on the merits of that issue,” the judge wrote.

Pechman had issued a preliminary injunction earlier this year requiring that asylum-seekers who are granted a hearing before an immigration judge be released within seven days of the proceeding being set, and expanded that injunction on Tuesday to encompass Barr’s order.

Wednesday’s statement also comes as the White House has said that it would seek to limit the authority of district judges to issue national injunctions.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE has repeatedly seen his policies at least temporarily blocked by lower court judges.

And the president hasn't been afraid to criticize judges who rule against his policies. He most recently targeted District Judge Haywood Gilliam, who blocked military funds from being used for Trump's wall on the southern border, calling Gilliam an "Obama judge."

Others, including Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, have sought to blunt those attacks, fearing that it could help undermine the judicial system by injecting politics into the rulings.