Law & the Courts

Ninth Circuit Lifts Nationwide Injunction, Allows Trump’s Asylum Crackdown to Proceed

(Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has temporarily lifted a nationwide injunction against President Trump’s restrictive asylum policy, allowing the administration to once again turn away asylum-seekers who travel through a so-called safe third country on their way to the U.S.

The Ninth Circuit granted the administration’s request for a stay late Tuesday night, just one day after San Francisco-based U.S. District Court judge Jon Tigar issued for the second time a nationwide injunction blocking the administration from implementing its new asylum policy. The court’s ruling narrows the scope of the injunction so that the administration is only blocked from implementing its safe-third-country policy within the court’s jurisdiction, which includes California and Arizona.

Under the new asylum policy, which was announced in July, migrants who travel through a safe third country such as Mexico on their way to the U.S. will be denied asylum if they haven’t previously applied for refugee status in the country that country. The policy is now in effect in New Mexico and Texas, since those states fall outside of the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction.

Soon after the policy was announced, Tigar, an Obama appointee, issued a nationwide injunction blocking its implementation, but was rebuffed by the Ninth Circuit, which narrowed the scope of the injunction. Citing new evidence about the policy’s alleged harm to migrants, Tigar reissued the nationwide injunction Monday, only to be overruled once again.

“The court recognized there is grave danger facing asylum-seekers along the entire stretch of the southern border,” Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement issued in response to Tigar’s Monday ruling.

The White House, meanwhile, criticized Tigar on Tuesday for seeking to unilaterally control federal immigration policy from the bench.

“Immigration and border security policy cannot be run by any single district court judge who decides to issue a nationwide injunction,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “This ruling is a gift to human smugglers and traffickers and undermines the rule of law. We previously asked the Supreme Court to set aside the district court’s injunction in its entirety, our request remains pending with the Court, and we look forward to it acting on our request.”

The administration has appealed to the Supreme Court to allow the policy to remain in effect nationwide until a the protracted court battle concludes.

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