Suit aims to nix Prez hit on asy­lum seek­ers


Pres­i­dent Trump's con­tro­ver­sial ex­ec­u­tive or­der block­ing some mi­grants from ap­ply­ing for asy­lum flies in the face of long­stand­ing U.S. and in­ter­na­tional laws — and could put lives at risk, ac­cord­ing to a law­suit filed Fri­day.

The suit, filed jointly by im­mi­gra­tion ad­vo­cacy groups East Bay Sanc­tu­ary Covenant and Al Otro Lado in a fed­eral court in Cal­i­for­nia, re­quests that a judge promptly im­poses an in­junc­tion against Trump's procla­ma­tion, which man­dates that mi­grants can only ap­ply for asy­lum at le­gal ports of en­try.

The law­suit, which was sub­mit­ted less than five hours af­ter Trump signed the or­der, charges the di­rec­tive stands in clear vi­o­la­tion of the U.S. asy­lum statute, which specif­i­cally states mi­grants — “whether or not at a des­ig­nated port of ar­rival” — can pe­ti­tion for asy­lum if they are flee­ing war or have cred­i­ble fear of po­lit­i­cal, ra­cial, re­li­gious or so­cial pros­e­cu­tion in their home coun­tries.

“It's a right that's specif­i­cally pro­tected by Amer­i­can law,” Omar Jad­wat, the di­rec­tor of ACLU's Im­mi­grants' Rights Project, said in a phone in­ter­view. “To try to paint that as some­thing that's blame­wor­thy dis­re­gards what the law ac­tu­ally is and caters to a fringe, na­tion­al­ist set of folks.”

Jad­wat, one of sev­eral ACLU at­tor­neys work­ing on the case, added, “It re­ally makes you think about who we are as a coun­try and who this ad­min­is­tra­tion wants us to be as a coun­try.”

The White House did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment, but the Pres­i­dent claimed ear­lier in the day that his or­der is “very im­por­tant.”

“We need peo­ple to come into our coun­try, but they have to come into our coun­try legally,” Trump told re­porters at the White House be­fore jet­ting off to France with the First Lady. “They have to come into our coun­try legally.”

Jad­wat said Trump's line of rea­son­ing is flawed.

As soon as you're on U.S. soil, Jad­wat ex­plained, the asy­lum statute shields mi­grants who wants to pe­ti­tion for pro­tec­tions.

“That's whether or not at a port of ar­rival,” Jad­wat said.

In ad­di­tion to vi­o­lat­ing asy­lum law and po­ten­tially putting mi­grant lives on the line, the law­suit charges the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion cir­cum­vented the reg­u­lar or­der of in­tro­duc­ing such a pol­icy shift.

Con­sid­er­ing the grav­ity of Trump's procla­ma­tion, the typ­i­cal code of con­duct is that a 30-day pe­riod of reg­u­la­tory re­view and pub­lic com­ment is al­lot­ted be­fore the or­der goes into ef­fect. Trump's or­der takes ef­fect Sat­ur­day.

Jer­rold Nadler, the top Demo­crat on the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, and Zoe Lof­gren, the rank­ing Dem on the sub­com­mit­tee on im­mi­gra­tion, also ripped Trump over is­su­ing the procla­ma­tion.

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