Ninth Circuit Chops Nationwide Block of Asylum Rule to Two States

(CN) – The Ninth Circuit once again sided with the Trump administration by limiting a federal judge’s injunction of new asylum rules to California and Arizona, rather than the nationwide block twice ordered by the judge.

A Trump administration policy enacted July 16 requires asylum seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border to have applied for and been denied asylum in any country they passed through along the way to the United States. Exceptions apply to victims of trafficking.

Immigration advocates say the rule exposes migrants to persecution in the third country where they are required to claim asylum and the wrongful return of many individuals to home countries where their lives are endangered. They sued, and U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar issued a nationwide injunction on July 24, the same day a judge in Washington D.C. rejected a request to block the asylum rule.

In August, a Ninth Circuit panel narrowed Tigar’s injunction to the only U.S.-Mexico border states within its jurisdiction – California and Arizona. But at a hearing on Sept. 5, Tigar insisted he had the authority to reinstate the nationwide injunction.

“I do think that I have the authority to make a clear ruling in favor of my prior injunction as it was issued if I believe that the record supports that ruling,” Tigar said at the hearing. He reinstated the nationwide block in a ruling Monday.

The Ninth Circuit disagreed, however, staying Tigar’s renewed injunction “pending further order of the court” on Wednesday until it considers the merits of the Trump administration’s request for a stay while the case is being appealed.

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt has argued the Trump administration failed to adequately consider whether Mexico and Guatemala have adequate infrastructure to manage asylum claims or whether the countries pose additional dangers for asylum seekers.

The Trump administration says Tigar’s injunction undermines its ability to secure the integrity of the southern border. Trump and others in the administration argue immigrants are abusing the asylum system by making bogus claims so they can remain in the United States while their cases are processed at a glacial pace by an overloaded system.

Plaintiffs who sued to block the asylum rule include East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Al Otro Lado, Innovation Law Lab and Central American Resource Center.

Last year, Tigar enjoined a different policy that made asylum off limits to all those who did not enter the U.S. at an official port of entry. The Ninth Circuit upheld that ruling pending appeal.

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