9th Circuit upholds order against Trump’s plan to limit asylum for immigrants

Mexican citizens look through the border between the U.S. and Tijuana in this 2006 file photo. On Friday, a federal appeals court refused to put a hold on a decision to temporarily block President Trump’s order to limit asylum only to those who cross at official points of entry.
(Omar Torres / AFP/Getty Images)
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A federal appeals court refused Friday to put a hold on a district judge’s decision to temporarily block President Trump’s order to limit asylum only to immigrants who cross the border at official points of entry.

“It is the hallowest of rights that an alien must be allowed to apply for asylum regardless of whether she arrived through a port of entry,” the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 2-1 decision.

The majority said Trump’s Nov. 9 order was “likely arbitrary and capricious” because it conditioned an immigrant’s eligibility for asylum “on a criterion that has nothing to do with asylum itself.”


The president, the majority said, “has attempted an end-run around Congress” and created a rule “equivalent to a bar to applying for asylum.”

U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar, who serves in San Francisco, issued a temporary restraining order against Trump’s decision last month, ruling that it violated an immigration law passed by Congress.

The Trump administration then asked the 9th Circuit to put a hold on Tigar’s decision.

Judge Jay S. Bybee, appointed by former President George W. Bush, wrote Friday’s majority decision and was joined by Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz, an Obama appointee.

Judge Edward Leavy, a Reagan appointee, dissented. Leavy said the Trump administration had “adopted legal methods to cope with the current problems rampant at the southern border.”

The new rule seeks “to bring safety and fairness to the conditions at the southern border,” Leavy wrote.

Trump acted after caravans of thousands of migrants headed from Central America to the U.S. border. The president also ordered active-duty troops to the border.


Several immigrants rights groups sued to block the order.

The Immigration and Naturalization Act says any immigrant who has arrived in the U.S. may apply for asylum “whether or not at a designated port of arrival.”

Tigar’s temporary restraining order will remain in effect until Dec. 19, when the administration and the challengers must return to court.

Twitter: @mauradolan