Trump Rule Restricting Asylum Seekers Blocked by U.S. Judge

A federal judge in Washington blocked a Trump administration rule that disqualified immigrants at the southern U.S. border from receiving asylum unless they had already sought it elsewhere.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly ruled on Tuesday that the government had “unlawfully promulgated” the asylum rule, bypassing the usual public comment process required under the Administrative Procedure Act. A federal judge in California had earlier blocked enforcement of the rule, which was part of a broader immigration crackdown by President Donald Trump.

The administration argued that observing the notice-and-comment requirement would lead to a surge of asylum seekers at the southern border while the rule was pending. Kelly rejected that claim, saying the government had provided no specific evidence beyond a Washington Post article that described smugglers coaching asylum seekers and said more immigrants had started traveling with their children after the U.S. ended family separation policies.

“The article does little if anything to support defendants’ prediction that undertaking notice-and-comment rule-making would have led to a dramatic, immediate surge of asylum applications at the border,” the judge said.

Immigration advocates hailed the decision, which they said blocked a rule that would make it more difficult for anyone fleeing persecution and violence in Central America to receive asylum.

“The rule had a devastating impact on asylum seekers, and we are glad to see Judge Kelly clearly state that that this administration is not above the law even as it tries to villainize refugees,” said Keren Zwick, director of litigation at the National Immigrant Justice Center.

A Justice Department official, asked for a comment on the ruling, noted that the judge’s decision focused on the procedures used to create the rule rather than the substance of the administration’s asylum policies.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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