Immigrant Rights Advocates Ask Court to Block Trump Administration Attempt to Thwart Court Order

January 7, 2021

SAN DIEGO, Jan.7, 2021—Immigrant rights advocates moved for a temporary restraining order to block the Trump administration’s latest attempt to circumvent an earlier court order prohibiting the government from applying an asylum ban to people who had to wait in Mexico because U.S. Customs and Border Protection artificially limited the number of asylum seekers it would allow to enter the United States at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

“The Asylum Ban rule being pushed through in the final days of the Trump administration can have life or death consequences for affected refugees. The thousands of individuals subject to the Asylum Ban face a much higher burden to gain protection in the United States, and in most cases remain permanently separated from family members still living in perilous circumstances in their home countries. We will continue to fight to ensure that refugees who have already suffered from application of the administration’s metering policy are not also prejudiced by this illegal asylum ban,” said Erika Pinheiro, litigation and policy director of Al Otro Lado.

“While our nation is in chaos and thousands of Americans are dying every day, the Trump administration is desperately trying to override a court order to deny asylum seekers their legal rights,” said Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Immigrant Justice Project. “In its final days the administration published a “final” asylum ineligibility rule that is functionally identical to an interim rule that the court previously prohibited the government from applying to individuals subject to metering before it took effect. This outrageous conduct flouts basic principles of separation of powers.”

On December 17 the government issued the final asylum ineligibility rule, which is set to go into effect on January 19.

“In its dying days, the Trump administration has launched another attack on asylum seekers and the rule of law by issuing a new “final” asylum ban regulation that is substantively identical to a prior version of an interim asylum ban which the courts have found unlawful,” said Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “This emergency motion seeks to protect the integrity of a court’s prior ruling and thousands of asylum seekers who might be vulnerable to this latest attack.”

“A federal court has ordered relief for individuals who were made to wait to seek asylum because of the administration’s metering policy. The government may not withhold those protections simply because it does not agree with the ruling. The emergency motion seeks to protect these asylum seekers from this latest attempt to deny them access to the U.S. asylum process,” said Karolina Walters, staff attorney at the American Immigration Council.

The case was originally brought by Al Otro Lado, a binational social justice legal services organization serving deportees, migrants, and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico, and a group of 13 asylum seekers who were turned away from ports of entry. They are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Immigration Council, and the law firm of Mayer Brown LLP.

The filing can be viewed here.

For more information, visit Southern Poverty Law Center, Center for Constitutional Rights, and American Immigration Council.



For more information, contact:

Maria Frausto, American Immigration Council, 202-507-7526, [email protected]; Jen Nessel, Center for Constitutional Rights, [email protected]; Marion Steinfels, Southern Poverty Law Center, 202-557 0430, [email protected]; and Melissa Flores, Al Otro Lado, [email protected].

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