President Trump's asylum plan blocked by federal judge

The temporary injunction halts the plan nationwide

July 24, 2019, 9:07 PM

A federal judge temporarily blocked President Donald Trump's plan to deny most asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border, dealing a major blow to the administration's latest attempt to deter migration to the U.S.

The nationwide injunction by the Northern District of California judge, who had been appointed by President Barack Obama, came on Wednesday, just hours after a Trump-appointed judge in Washington, D.C., said the policy would be allowed, at least temporarily.

The dueling rulings all but guarantee the question over restricting asylum claims would be appealed and possibly wind up before the Supreme Court.

"Today’s ruling is an important victory for incredibly vulnerable individuals and families from besieged Central American countries seeking refuge in our country," said Melissa Crow, a senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. "We will continue to fight this draconian policy as well as the myriad of others through which the Trump administration continues to wage war on asylum-seekers and our nation’s asylum system."

President Donald Trump speaks to the media about the testimony of White House Special Counsel Robert Mueller to Congress, July 24, 2019, outside the White House.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Earlier this week, the Trump administration had announced it would begin denying asylum claims and immediately deporting people who had passed through a third country en route to the U.S., unless that person had already sought asylum in that other country. The purpose of the plan was to force the vast majority of asylum seekers arriving from Central America to apply for asylum in Mexico without crossing into the United States.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham slammed the California ruling as the act of a lone judge and a "few activist groups with no legal standing."

"The tyranny of a dysfunctional system that permits plaintiffs to forum shop in order to find a single district judge who will purport to dictate immigration policy to the entire Nation – even in the face of a contrary ruling by another Federal court – must come to an end," she said in a statement.

The Southern Poverty Law Center had challenged the policy in court along with the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Constitutional Rights.

"The court recognized, as it did with the first asylum ban, that the Trump administration was attempting an unlawful end run around asylum protections enacted by Congress," said Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the ACLU.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle parks next to border fence between Mexico and U.S. as seen from Tijuana, Mexico, July 23, 2019.
Carlos Jasso/Reuters

Ken Cuccinelli, who oversees legal immigration under Trump as acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, had celebrated just hours earlier on Twitter after the Washington, D.C., judge allowed the policy to stand.

DHS's new Asylum Rule stands in D.C. Court ruling! A major victory for @realDonaldTrump's efforts to stop the crisis at our Southern border. 👍https://t.co/HDxrfNryqu

USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli (@USCISCuccinelli) July 24, 2019

His office did not respond to a request for comment on the latest ruling, which came late Wednesday.

Trump has tried -- unsuccessfully for the most part so far -- to prevent the tens of thousands of families with children arriving at the border each month in a bid to claim asylum. He has focused most of his attention on trying to force Congress into paying for a border wall, at one point shutting down the government over the matter before finally relenting. He also has called for increased deportations, although his agency has limited resources and bed space to detain undocumented migrants.

Matthew Albence, the acting head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was expected to testify before Congress on Thursday. In prepared testimony, Albence will ask Congress for additional resources to deport more of the 10.5 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

"If we only enforce our immigration laws at the border and fail to provide adequate resources to ensure those who have entered illegally proceed through the immigration process and, if ordered removed, are actually removed, the entire system will break down," he states, according to his prepared remarks. "Such failure will continue to serve as a magnet for additional aliens to illegally enter the country."

His office did not respond to a request for comment on the latest ruling, which came late Wednesday.

Trump has tried -- unsuccessfully for the most part so far -- to prevent the tens of thousands of families with children arriving at the border each month in a bid to claim asylum. He has focused most of his attention on trying to force Congress into paying for a border wall, at one point shutting down the government over the matter before finally relenting. He also has called for increased deportations, although his agency has limited resources and bed space to detain undocumented migrants.

Matthew Albence, the acting head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was expected to testify before Congress on Thursday. In prepared testimony, Albence will ask Congress for additional resources to deport more of the 10.5 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

\"If we only enforce our immigration laws at the border and fail to provide adequate resources to ensure those who have entered illegally proceed through the immigration process and, if ordered removed, are actually removed, the entire system will break down,\" he states, according to his prepared remarks. \"Such failure will continue to serve as a magnet for additional aliens to illegally enter the country.\"

","publishedDate":"2019-07-25T01:07:00Z","contributors":[{"name":"Anne Flaherty","url":"https://abcnews.go.com/author/anne_flaherty","role":"","logo":"","logoAlt":""}],"authorsStr":"Anne Flaherty","modifiedDate":"2019-07-25T16:00:17Z","section":"Politics","wordCount":652,"relatedTags":{"heading":"Related Topics","tags":[{"label":"Donald Trump","href":"/alerts/DonaldTrump"},{"label":"Immigration","href":"/alerts/Immigration"}]},"lead":{"ratio":"16x9","disableForMobile":false,"type":"xl","mediaType":"video","alignCaptionToBody":true},"ads":{"Sticky":{"kvps":{"test":true}},"RightRail":{"kvps":{"test":true}},"InlineBox":{},"InlineOutstream":{"disabled":false},"Taboola":{"position":"bottom","pageType":"article","config":{"network":"abcnews-abcnews","mode":"thumbnails-a","container":"taboola-below-article-thumbnails","type":"article","targetType":"mix","placement":"Below Article Thumbnails"}}},"featuredVideo":{"id":"64351096","type":"video","locator":"https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/video/trump-administration-rolls-country-asylum-rule-64351096","shortLocator":"https://abcn.ws/2XMtOqA","issued":"2019-07-15T21:19:53Z","created":"2019-07-15T21:19:53Z","modified":"2019-07-15T22:09:01Z","date":"2019-07-15T21:19:53Z","keywords":["immigration","trump","asylum","refugee","emmigration","Video","64351096"],"section":"Politics","title":"Trump administration rolls out 'third country' asylum rule","headline":"Trump administration rolls out 'third country' asylum rule","shortHeadline":"Trump administration rolls out 'third country' asylum rule","linkHeadline":"Trump administration rolls out 'third country' asylum rule","description":"The regulation will go into effect on July 16.","leadInText":"The regulation will go into effect on July 16. ","duration":32000,"contents":{"image":{"id":"64351097","created":"2019-07-15T21:19:05Z","modified":"2019-07-15T21:19:35Z","credit":"WABC","crops":[{"name":"raw","ratio":"16x9","url":"https://s.abcnews.com/images/Politics/190715_wabc_assylum_hpMain_16x9_992.jpg"},{"name":"12x5","ratio":"12x5","url":"https://s.abcnews.com/images/Politics/190715_wabc_assylum_hpMain_12x5_992.jpg"},{"name":"16x9","ratio":"16x9","url":"https://s.abcnews.com/images/Politics/190715_wabc_assylum_hpMain_16x9_992.jpg"},{"name":"1x1","ratio":"1x1","url":"https://s.abcnews.com/images/Politics/190715_wabc_assylum_hpMain_1x1_992.jpg"},{"name":"4x3","ratio":"4x3","url":"https://s.abcnews.com/images/Politics/190715_wabc_assylum_hpMain_4x3_992.jpg"},{"name":"4x5","ratio":"4x5","url":"https://s.abcnews.com/images/Politics/190715_wabc_assylum_hpMain_4x5_992.jpg"}],"description":"Trump administration rolls out third country asylum rule"},"playlist":[{"id":"64351096","type":"video","streams":{"m3u8":{"16x9":"https://service-pkgabcnews.akamaized.net/opp/hls/abcnews/2019/07/190715_wabc_assylum_,500,800,1200,1800,2500,3200,4500,.mp4.csmil/playlist.m3u8"}}}]},"streams":{"m3u8":{"16x9":"https://service-pkgabcnews.akamaized.net/opp/hls/abcnews/2019/07/190715_wabc_assylum_,500,800,1200,1800,2500,3200,4500,.mp4.csmil/playlist.m3u8"}},"transcript":{"webVtt":"https://abcnews.go.com/video/caption?id=64351096"},"alertTag":"TrumpAdministration","sectionRoot":"Politics","adFlag":true,"noAds":false,"isAmbient":false,"sponsored":false,"hideDate":false,"hideReportTypo":false},"featuredImage":null,"dateline":"","seo":{"JSONLD":{"videoObject":{"name":"Trump administration rolls out 'third country' asylum rule","description":"The regulation will go into effect on July 16.","uploadDate":"2019-07-15T21:19:53Z","thumbnailUrl":["https://s.abcnews.com/images/Politics/190715_wabc_assylum_hpMain_1x1_992.jpg?w=384","https://s.abcnews.com/images/Politics/190715_wabc_assylum_hpMain_4x3_992.jpg?w=384","https://s.abcnews.com/images/Politics/190715_wabc_assylum_hpMain_16x9_992.jpg?w=384"],"url":"https://service-pkgabcnews.akamaized.net/opp/hls/abcnews/2019/07/190715_wabc_assylum_,500,800,1200,1800,2500,3200,4500,.mp4.csmil/playlist.m3u8","contentUrl":"https://service-pkgabcnews.akamaized.net/opp/hls/abcnews/2019/07/190715_wabc_assylum_,500,800,1200,1800,2500,3200,4500,.mp4.csmil/playlist.m3u8","publisher":{"name":"ABC News","logo":{"url":"","@type":"ImageObject"},"@type":"Organization"},"mainEntityOfPage":{"@type":"WebPage","id":"https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/video/trump-administration-rolls-country-asylum-rule-64351096"},"duration":"PT0M32S"}}},"LivePromotion":{},"isShared":false},"autoUpdate":{"enabled":false,"topics":["general-elections-2020-balance-of-power"]}},"upw":{"balanceOfPower":{"electoral":{"header":"Biden Projected to be President-Elect","winningParty":"democrats","candidates":{"democrats":{"id":1036,"displayName":"Joe Biden","shortDisplayName":"J. Biden","firstName":"Joe","lastName":"Biden","party":"democrats","major":true,"incumbent":false,"winner":true,"votes":306},"republicans":{"id":8639,"displayName":"Donald Trump","shortDisplayName":"D. Trump","firstName":"Donald","lastName":"Trump","party":"republicans","major":true,"incumbent":true,"winner":false,"votes":232},"other":{"displayName":"Other","lastName":"Independent","votes":0}},"parties":{"democrats":"democrats","republicans":"republicans","other":"other"},"type":"electoral","votes":{"democrats":{"available":{},"total":306,"difference":{},"popular":{"displayValue":"81,283,098","value":81283098}},"republicans":{"available":{},"total":232,"difference":{},"popular":{"displayValue":"74,222,958","value":74222958}},"other":{"available":{},"total":0,"popular":{}},"total":538},"needed":{"displayText":"270 to win","displayValue":"270","value":270},"lastUpdated":{"value":"2020-12-18T21:15:13.850Z","displayValue":"December 18, 4:15:13PM ET"},"reporting":"99% of Expected Vote Reporting","rawReporting":"99%","typeDisplay":"President"},"senate":{"header":"Senate Seat Results","winningParty":null,"candidates":{"democrats":{"displayName":"Democrat","icon":"party-democrats","votes":46,"winner":false},"republicans":{"displayName":"Republican","icon":"party-republicans","votes":50,"winner":false},"other":{"displayName":"Other","lastName":"Independent","votes":2}},"parties":{"democrats":"democrats","republicans":"republicans","other":"other"},"type":"senate","votes":{"democrats":{"available":{"displayText":"12 Democrats up for election","shortDisplayText":"12 Dems. up for election","displayValue":"12","value":12},"total":46,"difference":{"displayText":"Gained 1 seat","displayValue":"1","value":1},"popular":{}},"republicans":{"available":{"displayText":"23 Republicans up for election","shortDisplayText":"23 Reps. up for election","displayValue":"23","value":23},"total":50,"difference":{"displayText":"Lost 1 seat","displayValue":"-1","value":-1},"popular":{}},"other":{"available":{"displayText":"0 Others up for election","shortDisplayText":"0 Others up for election","displayValue":"0","value":0},"total":2,"popular":{}},"total":100},"needed":{"displayText":"51 for control","displayValue":"51","value":51},"lastUpdated":{"value":"2020-12-17T18:22:05.390Z","displayValue":"December 17, 1:22:05PM ET"},"typeDisplay":"Senate"},"house":{"header":"House Results: Dems Retain Control","winningParty":"democrats","candidates":{"democrats":{"displayName":"Democrat","icon":"party-democrats","votes":222,"winner":true},"republicans":{"displayName":"Republican","icon":"party-republicans","votes":210,"winner":false},"other":{"displayName":"Other","lastName":"Independent","votes":0}},"parties":{"democrats":"democrats","republicans":"republicans","other":"other"},"type":"house","votes":{"democrats":{"available":{"displayText":"233 Democrats up for election","shortDisplayText":"233 Dems. up for election","displayValue":"233","value":233},"total":222,"difference":{"displayText":"Lost 10 seats","displayValue":"-10","value":-10},"popular":{}},"republicans":{"available":{"displayText":"201 Republicans up for election","shortDisplayText":"201 Reps. up for election","displayValue":"201","value":201},"total":210,"difference":{"displayText":"Gained 10 seats","displayValue":"10","value":10},"popular":{}},"other":{"available":{"displayText":"1 Others up for election","shortDisplayText":"1 Others up for election","displayValue":"1","value":1},"total":0,"popular":{}},"total":435},"needed":{"displayText":"218 for control","displayValue":"218","value":218},"lastUpdated":{"value":"2020-12-17T18:22:02.900Z","displayValue":"December 17, 1:22:02PM ET"},"typeDisplay":"House"},"lastUpdated":{"value":"2020-12-18T21:15:13.850Z","displayValue":"December 18, 4:15:13PM ET"},"autoUpdate":{"enabled":false,"topics":["general-elections-2020-balance-of-power"]},"electionsConfig":{}},"types":["electoral","senate","house"]}},"analytics":{"accountID":"wdgnewabcnews,wdgasec,wdgnewabcnweb,wdgnewabcnewsrollup","ns":"abcnews","pageName":"abcn:politics:story","pageType":"story","pageUrl":"abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-trumps-asylum-plan-blocked-federal-judge/story?id=64553324&userab=shop_ui_series-247*variant_a_cta_original-939","globalSpecVersion":"v1.08","siteDifferentiator":"abcn:site","tagID":"apage_news01","userABCookie":"shop_ui_series-247*variant_a_cta_original-939","alertTag":"Donald Trump","authors":"Anne Flaherty","authorsBureau":"none","authorsUnit":"none","dateline":"none","id":"64553324","modDate":"2019-07-25","mediaOnPage":"video","modTime":"12:00","provider":"ABC News","pubDate":"2019-07-24","pubTime":"21:07","section":"Politics","subBrand":"none","title":"President Trump's asylum plan blocked by federal judge","videoId":"64351096","videoName":"Trump administration rolls out 'third country' asylum rule","wordCount":652},"taboola":{"config":{"network":"abcnews-abcnews","mode":"thumbnails-a","type":"other","targetType":"mix","placement":null,"pageTypeOverrides":{"story":{"mode":"thumbnails-a","type":"article","targetType":"mix","placement":"Below Article Thumbnails"},"home":{"mode":"thumbnails-b","container":"taboola-homepage-thumbnails","type":"home","targetType":"mix","placement":"Homepage Thumbnails"},"section":{"mode":"thumbnails-b","type":"category","targetType":"mix","placement":"Section Front Thumbnails"},"liveBlog":{"mode":"thumbnails-d","type":"other","targetType":"mix","placement":"Blog"}}}}},"request":{"headers":{},"httpVersion":"1.1","method":"GET","url":"/Politics/president-trumps-asylum-plan-blocked-federal-judge/story?id=64553324&userab=shop_ui_series-247*variant_a_cta_original-939","vary":{"host":"abcnews.go.com","cached":true,"path":"/Politics/president-trumps-asylum-plan-blocked-federal-judge/story","forwarded-proto":"https","device":"desktop","country":"us","userab":"shop_ui_series-247*variant_a_cta_original-939","region":"gdpr"}},"viewport":{"width":1260,"height":0},"user":{}};