WASHINGTON — A judge Tuesday barred the Trump administration from denying asylum to immigrants who cross the southern border illegally, as caravans of migrants are beginning to arrive at the U.S./ Mexico border.
- Judge says president overstepped his authority with asylum policy
- Administration policy denied asylum seekers who illegally crossed the border
- Next court proceedings on December 19
U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar issued a nationwide restraining order, saying migrants must be allowed to request asylum, no matter where they enter the U.S.
"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 order granting a temporary restraining order.
“The purpose of an asylum statute is to literally say, it doesn’t matter how you entered, you’re allowed to apply for asylum," said Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney in Holland & Knight's Washington, D.C. office.
The ruling is a temporary setback for the president. The administration introduced the policy earlier this month. It attempts to block anyone who didn’t enter through a legal port of entry from making an asylum claim.
Fresco said the decision will enable those at the border to request asylum, regardless of how they entered.
“If you present yourself as a refugee at the border, then the border patrol has to ask you certain questions, and if you articulate a fear of returning to your home country," Fresco explained. "Ninety percent do get released into the interior of the United States to await their asylum hearing."
In response to the restraining order, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice signaled they intend to defend the policy in further court proceedings on December 19.
The White House later issued a statement saying the "decision will open the floodgates, inviting countless illegal aliens to pour into our country on the American taxpayer’s dime."
"We will take all necessary action to defend the executive branch’s lawful response to the crisis at our southern border," the statement said.
Fresco, who also served as the deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Immigration Litigation at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Division, believes the legal battle over this order is only just beginning.
“That decision will work its way up to the ninth circuit, and then ultimately to the Supreme Court," he said.
President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House Tuesday afternoon that he believes the case ultimately will make its way to the highest court in the land.
“It’s a disgrace what happens in the ninth circuit, we will win that case in the Supreme Court of the United States," he said.
Troops sent to meet those caravans are being sent home beginning this week. All 5,800 troops are expected home before Christmas.