BREAKING: Judge Stops Trump Administration Efforts to Bar More from Asylum

Nov 19, 2020

Just One Day Before They Were Slated to Go Into Effect, Federal Judge Enjoins Broad Rules That Would Have Vastly Expanded Categorical Bars to Asylum

For Immediate Release

November 19, 2020

New York/Washington/San Francisco - On Thursday, a federal judge in the Northern District of California issued a nationwide injunction against the Trump Administration's new rule that would have dramatically restricted asylum eligibility for asylum seekers convicted of low-level offenses and even people who are not convicted of a crime. The changes were scheduled to go into effect on Friday. 

ion comes after four immigrant rights organizations—Pangea Legal Services, Dolores Street Community Services, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (“CLINIC”), and Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition—filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice earlier this month, challenging the rule. The plaintiffs are represented by the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (“NIPNLG”), the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, the Immigrant Defense Project, and the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP.

The court’s ruling protects the right to seek asylum in the United States. It halts the Trump Administration’s excessively harsh rule, which would have created broad bars to asylum based on low-level offenses and, in some cases, mere allegations. This new regulation was the latest attempt by the Trump Administration to dismantle asylum protections as part of its anti-immigrant agenda. 

As the court recognized in its decision, the new rule would have deprived “valid asylees of ever obtaining asylum, regardless of whether they have rehabilitated themselves, regardless of whether their criminal conduct occurred many years earlier, or regardless of whether they have committed acts that Congress has said should not render one ineligible for asylum.” The TRO will remain in effect through December 9 when the Court will hold a hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction.

Click here to read the Order Granting Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order

Click here to read the original Complaint filed by Plaintiffs. 

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Pangea Legal Services is a San Francisco Bay Area-based nonprofit whose mission is to stand with immigrant communities and to provide services through direct legal representation, especially in the area of deportation defense.  In addition to direct legal services, we are committed to advocating on behalf of our community through policy advocacy, education, and legal empowerment efforts. Visit www.pangealegal.org and follow us on Twitter @PangeaLegal.

Dolores Street Community Services is a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that serves low-income and unstably housed individuals in and around San Francisco, California.  DSCS’s legal team strives to advance the rights of immigrants through direct legal representation, primarily through deportation defense, as well as advocacy, policy, and litigation. Visit www.sfdeportdefense.org and follow us on Twitter @sfdeportdefense.

The Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition strives to ensure equal justice for all immigrant adults and children at risk of detention and deportation in the Capital region area and beyond through direct legal representation, know your rights presentations, impact litigation, advocacy, and the enlistment and training of attorneys to defend immigrants. More information can be found at www.caircoalition.org.

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC, advocates for humane and just immigration policy. Its network of nonprofit immigration programs — almost 400 affiliates in 48 states and the District of Columbia — is the largest in the nation. CLINIC provides substantive legal, trial skills, and program management training and resources, legal challenges to anti-immigrant policies and regulations, advocacy support at state, local and national levels, and remote-based crisis response models to immigration enforcement.

The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) is a national non-profit membership organization of lawyers, law students, legal workers, advocates, and jailhouse lawyers working to defend and extend the rights of all noncitizens in the United States, regardless of immigration status. We pursue all forms of legal advocacy on behalf of immigrants and provide technical assistance and support to legal practitioners, community-based immigrant organizations, and advocates seeking and working to advance the rights of noncitizens. Learn more at nipnlg.org. Follow NIPNLG on social media: National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild on Facebook, @NIPNLG on Twitter.

The Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) is a New York-based nonprofit that works to secure fairness and justice for immigrants in the racially-biased U.S. criminal and immigration systems. IDP fights to end the current era of unprecedented mass criminalization, detention, and deportation through a multi-pronged strategy including advocacy, litigation, legal support, community partnerships, and strategic communications. Visit www.immigrantdefenseproject.org and follow @ImmDefense.

The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program is one of the oldest immigrants’ rights programs in the country. Established nearly forty years ago at Harvard Law School, the Program includes both the Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Clinic and the Crimmigration Clinic. The clinics represent individuals seeking immigration protection in administrative tribunals, pursue impact litigation seeking to advance immigrants’ rights, and engage with community-based organizations on policy advocacy strategies. Follow the Program on Facebook and Twitter @HLS_Immigration.

Contact: 

Bridget Pranzatelli, bridget@caircoalition.org, 504-940-4710

Rachel Cohen, rachel@immdefense.org, 917-370-8464

Sirine Shebaya, sshebaya@nipnlg.org, 202-656-4788

Etan Newman, etan@pangealegal.org, 415-652-0907

Philip Torrey, ptorrey@law.harvard.edu, 617-495-0638

Kate Mahoney, kate@dscs.org, 415-484-8630

Lynn Tramonte, ltramonte@cliniclegal.org, 202-255-0551