Immigration advocacy groups sue Trump administration over asylum restrictions

Immigration advocacy groups sue Trump administration over asylum restrictions
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Two immigration groups sued the Trump administration Tuesday evening after it placed new restrictions on migrants’ ability to seek asylum.

Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, saying the restrictions violate the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

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Asylum seekers who pass through another country before reaching the United States will be ineligible for asylum when they reach the southern border, according to the new rule.

The groups are requesting a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against the rule, which would affect most migrants from Central America.

The advocacy organizations allege the rule violates due process and inflicts “immediate and irreparable harm upon asylum seekers by denying them the opportunity to seek asylum in the United States based on asylum bar that is impermissible under the INA.” They also argued that the restrictions hamper their ability to aid their clients and would force them to “drastically divert or redesign their programs.”

Under the rule, those who have been the victims of trafficking are granted exceptions. The rule also exempts 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.

A coalition of groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Southern Poverty Law Center and Center for Constitutional Rights, filed a separate suit against the rule earlier Tuesday. Those groups are seeking an injunction blocking enforcement of the rule and an order striking down the rule itself.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE has called U.S. immigration laws the "dumbest" in the world and has said Congress needs to pass bills to tighten asylum laws. Such legislation has yet to gain traction on Capitol Hill.

The administration has defended the new restrictions as necessary to ease the burden on an immigration system grappling with a rising number of asylum claims by allowing it to swiftly weed out individuals trying to “exploit” the asylum protections. 

“The United States is a generous country but is being completely overwhelmed by the burdens associated with apprehending and processing hundreds of thousands of aliens along the southern border,” Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrCurrent and former prosecutors respond to Barr's 'concerning' comments on progressive DAs Attorney General Barr's license to kill Medical examiner confirms Epstein death by suicide MORE said in a statement.

“This Rule will decrease forum shopping by economic migrants and those who seek to exploit our asylum system to obtain entry to the United States—while ensuring that no one is removed from the United States who is more likely than not to be tortured or persecuted on account of a protected ground.”

The new rule applies to those who enter or arrive in the U.S. on or after Tuesday.