Judge Rules Trump Administration Can’t Bar Asylum Claims on Basis of Domestic, Gang Violence

By Melanie Arter | December 20, 2018 | 11:01am EST
TIJUANA, MEXICO - DECEMBER 16: Migrants walk while being taken into custody by the U.S. Border Patrol after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border fence and turning themselves in on December 16, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. Many of the thousands of migrants who have arrived to the border in a caravan had planned to request political asylum in the United States after traveling more than 6 weeks from Central America. U.S. border officials only process a limited number of asylum cases per day, leaving many migrants to choose between crossing illegally or possibly waiting for months in shelters in Mexico for U.S. asylum hearings. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – A federal judge on Wednesday struck down the Trump administration’s policy denying asylum claims on the basis of domestic and gang-related violence.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton, ruled that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ asylum policy changes were “arbitrary, capricious and in violation of the immigration laws.”

“It is the will of Congress — not the whims of the Executive—that determines the standard for expedited removal,” Sullivan said in his ruling, adding that “the Court finds that those policies are unlawful."

Sullivan permanently blocked the federal government “from continuing to apply those policies and from removing plaintiffs who are currently in the United States without first providing credible fear determinations consistent with the immigration laws."

The judge also ordered those who were denied asylum and sent back to their home countries to be returned to the United States.


Sullivan said the federal government must “return to the United States the plaintiffs who were unlawfully deported and to provide them with new credible fear determinations consistent with the immigration laws."

Justice Department spokesman Steve Stafford said, however, “Under the laws passed by Congress, asylum is only for those who have a legitimate fear of persecution on the basis of their race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

“Attorney General Sessions’ ruling in matter of A-B was about following that requirement. We are reviewing our options with regard to this ruling, and we will continue to restore the rule of law in our immigration system,” Stafford added.

The White House reacted to the ruling, saying the court “has, once again, overridden and undermined” U.S. immigration law. It also said the ruling will make the existing backlog in immigration courts “even worse” and “encourage more illegal immigration.”

“Under the law, asylum is a discretionary benefit for aliens who have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Today’s ruling will further overwhelm our immigration courts with meritless cases, making the existing massive backlog even worse,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

“It will also encourage more illegal immigration to the United States, to the benefit of ruthless smuggling organizations that too often victimize young women and children,” Sanders said.

“Today’s ruling is only the latest example of judicial activism that encourages migrants to take dangerous risks; empowers criminal organizations that spread turmoil in our hemisphere; and undermines the laws, borders, Constitution, and sovereignty of the United States. We will continue to fight for the rule of law and against these reckless rulings,” she said.


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