/ACLU files lawsuit to block Trump’s sweeping asylum ban

ACLU files lawsuit to block Trump’s sweeping asylum ban

Migrants shield themselves at border

Migrants shield themselves from dust while being detained after crossing to the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier in May in El Paso, Texas. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit today to halt a sweeping new regulation that cuts off asylum for migrants who passed through another country en route to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The ACLU — representing four advocacy organizations — argued that President Donald Trump’s latest crackdown violates federal immigration and regulatory laws.

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“This is the Trump administration’s most extreme run at an asylum ban yet,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt in a related announcement. “It clearly violates domestic and international law, and cannot stand.”

The departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced a new fast-track rule Monday that will block asylum for any migrants who first pass through another country without applying for protections. The regulation would nullify the majority of asylum claims, including those of Central Americans fleeing persecution in their home countries.

In the lawsuit, which was filed in the Northern District of California, the ACLU argued the new regulation “is a part of an unlawful effort to significantly undermine, if not virtually repeal, the U.S. asylum system.”

The civil rights group contends the rule violates federal asylum law, which makes protections available to immigrants whether or not they arrive at a port of entry. In addition, they assert the administration ran afoul of regulatory guidelines when it issued the sweeping change immediately and without a thorough public process.

A federal judge in November temporarily halted a similar Trump policy that blocked migrants who cross between ports of entry from seeking asylum.

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