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US judge blocks Trump administration's restrictions on asylum eligibility

US judge blocks Trump administration's restrictions on asylum eligibility
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A U.S. district judge on Friday ruled against the Trump administration’s latest effort to curb immigration with less then two weeks until President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Olympics, climate on the agenda for Biden meeting with Japanese PM Boehner on Afghanistan: 'It's time to pull out the troops' MORE’s inauguration. 

According to The Associated Press, District Judge James Donato in San Francisco sided with advocacy groups that sued against the restrictions, arguing that acting Homeland Security secretary Chad WolfChad WolfIntel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave Russia suspected of massive State Department email hack: report MORE lacked authority to impose the new rules. 

Donato ruled that Wolf’s appointment violated the agency’s order of succession, saying it was the fifth time a court has ruled against the department for the same reasoning. 

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“The government has recycled exactly the same legal and factual claims made in the prior cases, as if they had not been soundly rejected in well-reasoned opinions by several courts,” Donato wrote in his ruling, according to the AP. 

“This is a troubling litigation strategy,” he added. “In effect, the government keeps crashing the same car into a gate, hoping that someday it might break through.”

The proposed asylum restrictions, which were set to take effect Monday, were first announced by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice in a 419-page document last month. 

The rules included broadening the grounds for a judge to decide if an application is “frivolous,”  and allowing judges to deny requests without a hearing if the asylum claims are deemed to be backed by insufficient evidence.

The new policy also stated that asylum-seekers must prove that they will suffer “a severe level of harm” should they return to their home country. Current law says asylum-seekers must have a “credible fear of persecution or torture.”

Aaron Frankel, an attorney for the plaintiffs in Friday’s case, has called the rules “nothing less than an attempt to end the asylum system,” according to the AP. 

Donato said Friday that his ruling applies nationwide, because limiting the reach of the decision “would result in a fragmented and disjointed patchwork of immigration policy.”

It was not immediately clear if the Trump administration plans on filing an emergency appeal to Friday’s ruling.