Judge Stops Trump Administration Efforts to Bar More from Asylum

For Immediate Release
November 19, 2020

Judge Stops Trump Administration Efforts to Bar More from Asylum
Just One Day Before They Were Slated to Go Into Effect, Federal Judge Enjoins Broad Rules That Would Have Vastly Expanded Categorical Bars to Asylum

New York/Washington/San Francisco – On Thursday, a federal judge in the Northern District of California issued a nationwide injunction against the Trump Administration’s new rule that would have dramatically restricted asylum eligibility for asylum seekers convicted of low-level offenses and even people who are not convicted of a crime. The changes were scheduled to go into effect on Friday.

The injunction comes after four immigrant rights organizations—Pangea Legal Services, Dolores Street Community Services, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (“CLINIC”), and Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition—filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice earlier this month, challenging the rule. The plaintiffs are represented by the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (“NIPNLG”), the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, the Immigrant Defense Project, and the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP.

The court’s ruling protects the right to seek asylum in the United States. It halts the Trump Administration’s excessively harsh rule, which would have created broad bars to asylum based on low-level offenses and, in some cases, mere allegations. This new regulation was the latest attempt by the Trump Administration to dismantle asylum protections as part of its anti-immigrant agenda.

As the court recognized in its decision, the new rule would have deprived “valid asylees of ever obtaining asylum, regardless of whether they have rehabilitated themselves, regardless of whether their criminal conduct occurred many years earlier, or regardless of whether they have committed acts that Congress has said should not render one ineligible for asylum.” The TRO will remain in effect through December 9 when the Court will hold a hearing on the plaintiffs motion for a preliminary injunction.

Click here to read the Order Granting Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order.

Click here to read the original Complaint filed by Plaintiffs.