Civil Rights Groups File to Temporarily Block Trump Asylum Rule

By Aline Barros | VOA  News |

Several civil rights groups on Wednesday sought a temporary restraining order to block a Trump administration asylum rule that went into effect the day before.

The new rule would categorically bar asylum for migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border without applying for and being denied asylum in any country they pass through on their way to the United States.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the regulation.

“We filed the complaint yesterday, and we filed the motion for a temporary restraining order early this morning. We’re trying to block this new draconian rule that went into effect yesterday,” Melissa Crow, a senior supervising attorney at the SPLC and co-counsel in the case, told VOA.

“The new rule would have really dire consequences for thousands of people, especially those who have been waiting in Mexico for long periods of time, due to the government’s long-standing practice of turning back asylum seekers at the southern border through metering and other tactics,” Crow said.

Trump administration officials have said the new rule is meant to ease the strain on the U.S. asylum system.

Before the rule went into effect, Attorney General William Barr noted in a statement a “dramatic increase in the number of aliens” arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, adding that “[o]nly a small minority of these individuals” qualify for asylum.

A hearing on the motion for a temporary restraining order could happen as early as next week, Crow said.

The organizations are seeking to relate the case to a November 2018 case challenging the Trump administration’s previous asylum ban, which would have made people who entered the U.S. between ports of entry ineligible for asylum.

In that case, the court issued a preliminary injunction, which is still in place. The government’s appeal of that injunction is before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear arguments next fall.

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