Federal Judge Hands Loss To Trump Administration On Asylum-Seeker Policy

The federal judge argued that the policy was in direct conflict with current U.S. law.

President Donald Trump prepares to depart for the Jamestown Settlement.
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The federal judge argued that the policy was in direct conflict with current U.S. law.

A policy enacted by President Donald Trump’s administration that only allows migrants to claim asylum if they come into the country through an official port of entry was struck down on Friday by a Washington, D.C., federal judge.

The policy was included in a controversial proclamation that Trump signed in November of 2018.

Appointed by former president Barack Obama, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss tossed out the policy, citing that it was “inconsistent” with the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Judge Jon Tigar, a federal judge in San Francisco, had already blocked the policy and currently it’s being appealed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to The Hill.

Tigar also recently issued a restraining order on a new policy that would block migrants who passed through a third country before reaching the southern U.S. border from the ability to apply for asylum.

Moss pointed to a section of U.S law that states, “any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival…), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum.”

The Trump administration argued that the policy doesn’t block migrants who enter outside of designated ports of entry, but said that those migrants were ineligible for asylum to begin with.

However, Judge Moss disagreed with their attempt to justify the policy.

“As a matter of common usage, no one would draw a meaningful distinction, for example, between a rule providing that children may not apply for a driver’s license and one providing that children are not eligible to receive a driver’s license,” Moss wrote. “Both locutions mean the same thing.”

The policy has drawn criticism from various pro-immigrant politicians and organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

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After the signing of the proclamation last year, Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, expressed concern that the policy was a direct violation of current U.S. law, according to The Hill.

“U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree,” Jadwat said at the time, which Moss echoed in Friday’s ruling.

The judge’s ruling on Friday is the latest in a series of court-based losses on immigration for the Trump administration.

Earlier in the week, Attorney General William Barr announced a new policy that would forbid migrants from claiming U.S. asylum based on claims of persecuted, immediate family members.