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Federal District Court Judge Blocks Trump's Third Country Asylum Rule

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As outlined in our blog, “Trump Administration Issues New Third Country Asylum Rule,” the new third-country asylum rule bars anyone (other than a citizen of Mexico) who travels from another country to the United States by land from qualifying for asylum unless he or she first seeks asylum in a third country.

However, on July 24, 2019, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar of San Francisco, California issued a preliminary injunction which has temporarily stopped the Trump administration’s third-country asylum bar from going into effect.

Earlier on the same day, a U.S. District Judge in Washington D.C. declined to issue a preliminary injunction in a similar suit. However, the decision of Judge Tigar in San Francisco a few hours later temporarily halted the implementation of the third-country asylum bar nationwide. Parties in both cases will likely appeal both decisions. For the time being, individuals seeking asylum in the United States will not be blocked by the Trump Administration’s draconian new rule.

In his decision, Judge Tigar reasoned that the new rule is inconsistent with existing asylum law, which: 1) bars anyone who has been “firmly resettled,” or has received an offer of permanent resettlement, in another country prior to arriving in the United States from qualifying for asylum; and 2) bars anyone who may be removed to a “safe third country” where the U.S. has determined he or she would have access to a full and fair procedure for determining asylum claims from qualifying for asylum.

Judge Tigar also reasoned that the Trump administration failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act’s notice-and-comment requirements prior to making the third-country asylum rule effective. Judge Tigar noted that under the new rule, asylum seekers would most often be required to request asylum in Mexico prior to arriving in the United States, where they are likely to be exposed to violence, denied their rights under Mexican and international law, and wrongly returned that the countries from which they fled.

Notably, Judge Tigar concluded that a preliminary injunction is necessary in this case to “ensur[e] that the statutes enacted by [U.S.] representatives are not imperiled by executive fiat” and to “ensur[e] that we do not deliver aliens into the hands of their persecutors.” He concluded that the plaintiffs’ claim that the third-country asylum rule is invalid is likely to prevail.

If you have questions about applying for asylum, the new Third-Country Asylum Bar, or other immigration issues, please contact Kolko & Casey, P.C. at (303) 371-1822 to schedule a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney.

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Kolko & Casey, P.C. is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese and we can arrange for translators in any other language.