President Trump’s attempts to limit asylum applications were challenged in court Monday.
The outcome of the hearings, writes USA Today, could determine how many members of a U.S.-bound migrant caravan will be allowed into the country.
Hundreds of caravan members have already converged along the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana. On Monday, Customs and Border Protection officials temporarily close the San Ysidro port of entry to all northbound traffic. Vehicles were blocked, barriers were erected and pedestrians turned around.
The security precautions, claims the Department of Homeland Security, were due to rumors of migrants planning to “rush illegally” into the United States.
The two judges presiding over Monday’s hearings didn’t issue any immediate rulings. At stake is an issue often considered integral to international law—that of persons fleeing persecution at home to seek refuge abroad.
The Trump administration has, in recent weeks, taken extreme measures to curb the flow of asylum-seekers from Central America into the United States. The president has, for instance, ordered that any migrant detained attempting to illegally cross the border will be ineligible to apply for asylum.
The Mayor of Tijuana, Mexico, just stated that “the City is ill-prepared to handle this many migrants, the backlog could last 6 months.” Likewise, the U.S. is ill-prepared for this invasion, and will not stand for it. They are causing crime and big problems in Mexico. Go home!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2018
Trump—who took a long pause from his non-stop tweets about the caravan in the days leading up to the midterm elections—broached the subject once again Sunday, criticizing the migrants and likening the movement to a military invasion.
“Isn’t it ironic that large Caravans of people are marching to our border wanting U.S.A. asylum because they are fearful of being in their country – yet they are proudly waving their country’s flag. Can this be possible? Yes, because it is all a BIG CON, and the American taxpayer is paying for it!” Trump tweeted Sunday night.
Later Sunday evening, Trump referenced remarks made by Tijuana Mayor Manuel Gastelum, the latter of whom said his city might not be able to handle an influx of migrants.
“The Mayor of Tijuana, Mexico, just stated that ‘the City is ill-prepared to handle this many migrants, the backlog could last 6 months.’ Likewise, the U.S. is ill-prepare for the invasion, and will not stand for it. They are causing crime and big problems in Mexico. Go home!” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s demand that migrants “go home” echoed the sentiment of some Tijuana residents, who clashed with members of the caravan late last week.
Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union, who filed both suits against the administration, say the president’s recent amendments to asylum policy are illegal.
“President Trump’s new asylum ban is illegal,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said. “Neither the president nor his cabinet secretaries can override the clear commands of U.S. law, but that’s exactly what they’re trying to do.”
USA Today notes that the asylum ‘bans’ are two-fold.
The first suit was filed Monday in a federal court in Washington, D.C.
It references a move made by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that would disqualify some protected classes from asylum-type protections. Those barred from applications included victims of domestic abuse and persons fleeing gang violence.
The policy is a clear attempt to steer Central American asylum-seekers away from the United States. Several countries in the region lie at the epicenter of a transnational gang crisis, with many of its victims forced to go abroad in the face of threats, assault and intimidation.
The second suit was put forward in San Francisco and challenges the administration’s attempts to block illegal border-crossers from applying for asylum after arriving in the United States.