Saturday 17 August 2019

Judge rules Trump can't enforce new asylum rule

Donald Trump: President wants asylum-seekers to seek a third country. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Donald Trump: President wants asylum-seekers to seek a third country. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Daniel Trotta

A federal judge in San Francisco has blocked the Trump administration from enforcing a new rule that aimed to bar almost all asylum applications at the US-Mexico border.

US District Judge Jon Tigar, in the Northern District of California, issued a preliminary injunction blocking the rule, which would require asylum-seekers to first pursue safe haven in a third country they had travelled through on their way to the United States.

The decision makes inconsequential a ruling by Washington DC District Judge Timothy Kelly that declined to block the rule in a different lawsuit brought by immigration advocacy groups, lawyers said.

The Trump administration had been quick to celebrate that decision, saying it would discourage abuse of the asylum process.

Following the action by the San Francisco court, the rule will now be suspended pending further proceedings.

"Today's ruling is an important victory for incredibly vulnerable individuals and families," said Melissa Crow, an attorney from the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

The Trump administration has sought to curtail the increasing numbers of mostly Central American migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border after fleeing violence and poverty in countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. It has characterised the vast majority of their asylum claims as bogus.

After the White House announced the rule on July 15, the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups sued in California on the grounds it violates US law that welcomes those who come to the United States fleeing persecution at home.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump has vetoed an effort by the US Congress to block billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, saying the Arab states were "bulwarks" against Iran and must be supported.

Democrats and Republicans banded together to pass three resolutions blocking $8bn (€7.1bn) in weapons sales in protest at the high number of civilians killed by Saudi and UAE bombing in Yemen.

A number of Mr Trump's closest Republican allies, including Senators Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham, defied the president and voted for the resolutions.

But Mr Trump overturned all three of the resolutions on Wednesday night, the second time he has used his power of veto to defend Saudi Arabia from criticism in Congress.

"Saudi Arabia is a bulwark against the malign activities of Iran and its proxies in the region," Mr Trump said. He said that blocking the arms sales would weaken the Arab states' "ability to deter and defend against these threats".

However, the veto was met with fury by Democrats and came in for some criticism from Republicans.

Irish Independent

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