The latest legal defeat of the Trump administration’s immigration policies came late Monday night, when a federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked the administration’s asylum ban for a month. The policy, announced the week of the midterm elections, sought to prevent any immigrant who crossed the border between ports of entry from applying for asylum.
U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar ruled that the policy “irreconcilably conflicts with” the Immigration and Nationality Act, a U.S. law which dictates that anyone in the United States is eligible to apply asylum, regardless of whether they entered the country “illegally.”
Tigar also indicated that the policy goes against the “expressed intent” of Congress when the Immigration and Nationality Act was passed.
“Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” Tigar wrote in his decision.
Federal courts have previously struck down other draconian Trump administration immigration policies, including his infamous travel ban on individuals from majority-Muslim countries. This latest ruling further underscores how extreme and unprecedented the immigration policies put forth by the White House are.
The asylum ban was proposed in response to a Central American migrant caravan making its way to the U.S. southern border. Many in the caravan fled dangerous and unlivable situations in their countries of origin, and a large number of them planned to apply for asylum once they reached the United States. Even though large portions of the caravan are scheduled to arrive at legal ports of entry, the administration still sought to punish them.
Roughly 5,800 U.S. troops were also deployed to the southern border in response to the migrant caravan — despite the fact that the group is still hundreds of miles away — in what was likely a maneuver to rally the Republican base before the midterm elections. Defense Secretary James Mattis even admitted last week that the overall longterm strategic goals at the border had not yet been determined.
Confusion at the border continued this week as conflicting reports suggested the administration either had no clear plan for those troops and planned to bring them home, or planned to reinforce their presence.
Politico reported Tuesday that the administration would remove all military personnel from the border by December 15, in time for the holidays. CNN meanwhile, reported President Trump would soon announce a plan to keep the military at the border in order to protect border patrol officials from allegedly violent caravan members.