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9th Circuit Won’t Let Trump Toss Immigrants’ Asylum Applications

— December 11, 2018

On Friday, a U.S. appeals court refuse to let the Trump administration discard asylum applications from immigrants who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

POLITICO reports that, in a split 2-1 decision, judges of the 9th Circuit Court determined that the ban is incompatible with existing law.

“Just as we may not, as we are often reminded, ‘legislate from the bench,’ neither may the Executive legislate from the Oval Office,” 9th Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, a George W. Bush nominee, wrote.

President Trump signed an executive order last month that would bar unauthorized immigrants from requesting asylum after being detained on the U.S. side of the border. The 9th Circuit Court has issued a temporary restraining order against the order’s enactment.

According to CNN, that restraining order will remain in place until December 19th, after which a lower court judge will hold another hearing on the ban’s legality.

While the commander-in-chief has repeatedly denounced the 9th Circuit Court—the panel has broken up or otherwise stalled several of his anti-immigration orders—the judges did express some sympathy for Trump’s intent.

The president has repeatedly criticized the 9th Circuit Court and recently threatened to ‘break it up.’ Gavel; image courtesy of bloomsberries, via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0, no changes made.

“We are acutely aware of the crisis in the enforcement of our immigration laws,” the panel said. “The burden of dealing with these issues has fallen disproportionately on the courts of our circuit. And as much as we might be tempted to revise the law as we think wise, revision of the laws is best left with the branch that enacted the laws in the first place—Congress.”

The 9th Circuit went on to emphasize that litigation pending against the Trump administration is still in its early stages.

Still, that cautionary note didn’t stop some immigration advocates from praising the restraining order. Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the court’s decision is consistent with Congress’s.

“The 9th Circuit’s decision to keep the asylum ban blocked is consistent with the decision Congress has made and will save lives,” Gelernt said.

CNN notes that the Department of Justice declined the opportunity to comment and instead referred media to a statement issued by department spokesman Steven Stafford.

“Our asylum system is broken,” Stafford said in the statement, which was issued along with Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldman. “As the Supreme Court affirmed this summer, Congress has given the President broad authority to limit or even stop the entry of immigrants into this country.”

The administration earlier blasted the lower court judge who initially ruled against the ban’s legality.

In his ruling, San Francisco-based U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar said that anyone who crosses the border and claims asylum is to be protected until their claims can be assessed.

“Failure to comply with entry requirements such as arriving at a designated port of entry should bear little, if any, weight in the asylum process,” Tigar wrote.

The Trump administration reportedly denounced Tigar as an “Obama judge” before appealing to the 9th Circuit for review.


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