A Federal Judge Just Struck Down Trump’s Harsh Restrictions on Asylum

The White House had targeted asylum seekers fleeing gangs and domestic violence.

A woman in Tijuana, Mexico, hands over her documents as her number is called to cross the border and request asylum in the United States.Gregory Bull/AP

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

In a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict asylum, a federal judge Wednesday struck down new polices that have made it more difficult for people fleeing domestic violence and gangs to seek refuge in the United States.

In the ruling, US District Judge Emmet Sullivan found that the policies violated federal immigration law and ordered the government to return to the United States some asylum seekers who were illegally deported because of the rules.

The policies, first announced this summer, came after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a decision saying that victims of domestic and gang violence generally wouldn’t qualify for asylum. In response, US Citizenship and Immigration Services told asylum officers that people escaping these types of violence usually wouldn’t even pass the “credible fear” screening that allows them to make their case in front of a judge. The decision was potentially devastating for tens of thousands of Central American asylum seekers fleeing violence in the region. As my colleague Noah Lanard has reported, immigration lawyers began seeing “overwhelming” numbers of credible-fear denials in the weeks after the new rules went into effect.

The ruling came after a group of asylum seekers sued the Justice Department over the new policies. On Wednesday, Sullivan blocked the government from enforcing those rules in the future, finding that “there is no legal basis for an effective categorical ban on domestic violence and gang-related claims.”

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate