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.