9th Circuit removes nationwide injunction against Trump’s latest plan to limit asylum

Asylum seekers in January wait in Tijuana to go to the U.S. border to meet with U.S. immigration officials.
Asylum seekers in January waiting in Tijuana to go to the U.S. border to meet with U.S. immigration officials.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

In a partial victory for President Trump, a federal appeals court decided Friday to remove a nationwide injunction against a new rule that would deny asylum to the vast majority of immigrants at the southern border.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar, an Obama appointee based in San Francisco, issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the 10-day-old rule. It made migrants ineligible for asylum if they passed through another country en route to the U.S. and failed to apply for protection in that country.

Most asylum seekers come from Central America.

The Trump administration asked the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the injunction pending appeal.


A panel hearing motions this month for the 9th Circuit decided 2 to 1 that the district judge failed to cite evidence in support of a nationwide injunction and removed it.

“Based on the limited record before us, we do not believe a nationwide injunction is justified,” wrote the majority, 9th Circuit Judges Milan D. Smith Jr., appointed by President George W. Bush, and Mark J. Bennett, a Trump appointee.

The panel refused, however, to lift the injunction in the nine states of the 9th Circuit, saying the administration failed to show it was likely to win on appeal.

As a result, border officials in California and Arizona will not be allowed to apply the new rule against asylum seekers, but agents in Texas and New Mexico may, unless a court elsewhere intervenes.

In a dissent, Judge A. Wallace Tashima, a Clinton appointee, said the majority’s decision exceeded the authority of a motions panel.

“Perhaps, the district court did not make detailed findings in support of a nationwide injunction because the need for one in the circumstances of this case is obvious,” he wrote.


“Should asylum law be administered differently in Texas than in California?” he asked. “These issues and problems illustrate why tinkering with the merits on a limited stay motion record can be risky.”

Friday’s order set an expedited schedule for written arguments on the case and said a hearing would be held in December.