News & Politics

Trump Administration Scores a Partial Victory on Asylum Ban

Trump Administration Scores a Partial Victory on Asylum Ban
Immigrants from Central America reach the border in Tijuana, Mexico, to seek asylum in the United States on April 29, 2018. (Kyodo via AP)

A federal appeals court partially lifted a nationwide injunction against the Trump administration’s efforts to rein in the wave of Central American migrants seeking asylum at the border.

The court narrowed the scope of the injunction thus, allowing the ban to be implemented along a sizable section of the border.


While the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision to block the ban, it narrowed the nationwide injunction to the 9th Circuit, which encompasses district courts in the border states of Arizona and California.

But the panel also said in a related order that the asylum ban, implemented in July, likely violated federal regulatory law because it was issued without an adequate period for public comment.

The ACLU and others argued that the new asylum rules, which barred migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. if they first passed through another nation on their way to the U.S. border, violated federal asylum laws and international agreements. That argument is yet to be tested, but it was good enough to get an injunction.

In the ruling Friday, all three judges on the 9th Circuit panel agreed to uphold Tigar’s temporary freeze on the ban’s implementation. However, the panel split 2-1 on the issue of limiting the scope of the injunction.

Judges Milan Smith and Mark Bennett — appointees of George W. Bush and Trump, respectively — ruled to apply the injunction only to the 9th Circuit. The pair said in the majority-penned order that the district court “clearly erred” when it blocked the asylum ban across the country.

Judge Wallace Tashima, a Clinton appointee, would have kept the nationwide injunction in place. In a partial dissent, Tashima wrote that the asylum ban should be blocked across the country because it would be applied throughout the U.S.

“Should asylum law be administered differently in Texas than in California?” he wrote. “These issues and problems illustrate why tinkering with the merits on a limited stay motion record can be risky.”

There is nothing in international law or on the U.S. statute book that says the government has to admit everyone who shows up at the border seeking asylum. The Trump administration has already inked deals with Mexico and Guatemala that would keep many asylum seekers out of the U.S. while their cases are heard by an immigration judge. The administration not only has to struggle to discourage the hundreds of thousands of migrants who are overwhelming U.S. immigration facilities from coming here, but they also have to deal with a bevy of lawsuits by open borders fanatics that seek to upend U.S. law.

What the ACLU doesn’t like is that more than 80 percent of asylum seekers’ claims are denied by the immigration court. The rate of denial a decade ago was just 42%. This reflects the massive increase in people fleeing Central America for economic reasons. They seek to use the asylum laws to circumvent the requirement that they be in fear for their lives in order to gain entry into the U.S.

This abuse of the system has to stop. The requirement that migrants who pass through a third country before seeking asylum here not be allowed in is a reasonable response to a serious abuse of the system.

It’s not likely appeals courts will see it that way.

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