Trump moves to sharply re­strict asy­lum claims at U.S. bor­der

Lodi News-Sentinel - - PAGE TWO - By David G. Sav­age and Noah Bier­man

WASH­ING­TON — The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced a ma­jor new ef­fort to re­strict peo­ple from claim­ing asy­lum at the U.S. bor­der, set­ting up a le­gal bat­tle over the pres­i­dent’s au­thor­ity over im­mi­gra­tion.

The an­nounce­ment Thurs­day came only hours af­ter the 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals ruled against Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in an­other high-pro­file im­mi­gra­tion dis­pute — this one in­volv­ing treat­ment of the so-called Dream­ers, young peo­ple brought to the U.S. il­le­gally as chil­dren.

Im­mi­grant rights groups promised to chal­lenge the new asy­lum rules as soon as they go into ef­fect, call­ing them a clear vi­o­la­tion of U.S. law.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials ex­pect both cases to be headed to the Supreme Court this spring. That would test the will­ing­ness of the court’s newly re­in­forced con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity to back up the pres­i­dent on his sig­na­ture is­sue.

The new asy­lum rules, the lat­est salvo in Trump’s ef­fort to shut off the flow of peo­ple, mostly from Cen­tral Amer­ica, cross­ing into the United States from Mex­ico, aims to bar ten of thou­sands of claims for refuge filed each year.

The rules would seek to deny asy­lum to the vast ma­jor­ity of those who cross the bor­der il­le­gally rather than at a des­ig­nated port of en­try.

Roughly 97,000 peo­ple in the fis­cal year ended Sept. 30 claimed they had a “cred­i­ble fear of per­se­cu­tion” — the le­gal test for asy­lum — and sur­ren­dered to the Bor­der Pa­trol, ac­cord­ing to govern­ment statis­tics. Most en­tered il­le­gally, rather than at the of­fi­cial en­try ports, which in the last year have of­ten had huge back­logs.

Al­though most even­tu­ally lose their asy­lum claims and are de­ported, about 6,000 peo­ple in the last year won asy­lum cases.

The 9th Cir­cuit rul­ing in­volves the fate of nearly 700,000 young peo­ple who have been shielded from de­por­ta­tion by an Obama-era pro­gram known as DACA, or De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals.

Trump has been try­ing for more than a year to end DACA, de­spite claim­ing sym­pa­thy for the young peo­ple in­volved. He has re­peat­edly been stymied in court. The lat­est rul­ing marked the first time an ap­peals court has ruled on the is­sue.

The 3-0 rul­ing, in a case brought by the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia on be­half of stu­dents cov­ered by DACA, up­held a de­ci­sion by a fed­eral judge in San Fran­cisco that in Jan­uary halted Trump’s or­der. Is­su­ing a na­tion­wide de­cree, the judge said the pres­i­dent and his top ad­vis­ers failed to set out a le­git­i­mate rea­son for re­vok­ing the Dream­ers’ shield.

In his an­nounce­ment last year, Trump said he was end­ing DACA be­cause then-At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions de­ter­mined that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama had ex­ceeded his au­thor­ity in set­ting up the pro­gram. The ap­peals court said Ses­sions was wrong.

Obama’s or­der was “a per­mis­si­ble ex­er­cise of ex­ec­u­tive dis­cre­tion” that al­lowed the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity to “de­vote much-needed re­sources to en­force­ment pri­or­i­ties such as threats to na­tional se­cu­rity, rather than blame­less and eco­nom­i­cally pro­duc­tive young peo­ple with clean crim­i­nal records,” ap­peals court Judges Kim McLane Ward­law, Jac­que­line H. Nguyen and John B. Owens wrote.

Trump ul­ti­mately could re­scind DACA, but the de­ci­sion can­not rest “solely on an er­ro­neous le­gal premise,” they added. All three judges are Demo­cratic ap­pointees.

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