Ruling backs asylum seekers at border prior to policy shift

National

FILE – In this Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 file photo asylum seekers in Tijuana, Mexico, listen to names being called from a waiting list to claim asylum at a border crossing in San Diego. A federal judge has ruled that a partial ban on asylum doesn’t apply to anyone who appeared at an official border crossing before July 16 to make a claim, a move that could spare thousands of people. The administration said in July that it would deny asylum to anyone who traveled through another country without applying there first. The ban was on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decided in September that it could take effect during a legal challenge. (AP Photo/Elliot Spagat,File)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a partial ban on asylum does not apply to anyone who appeared at an official U.S. border crossing before the policy was announced in July, a decision that may affect thousands of people.

The Trump administration announced July 16 that it would deny asylum to anyone who traveled through another country without applying there first. The ban was on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decided Sept. 11 that it could take effect during a legal challenge.

Immigrant advocates went to court on behalf of migrants who heeded instructions of the U.S. government and waited at official crossings to request asylum, rather than cross the border illegally.

The advocates said the administration engaged in an “immoral bait-and-switch” against those immigrants by imposing the ban after they arrived at the border crossing.

U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant ruled in their favor Tuesday, saying anyone who appeared at a U.S. border crossing with Mexico before July 16 would be exempt from the ban.

“(These) asylum seekers understood their access to asylum in the United States to be premised on their willingness to wait in Mexico,” Bashant wrote. “In reliance on this representation by the U.S. Government, they did so. The Government — in a shift that can be considered, at best, misleading, and at worst, duplicitous — now seeks to change course.”

Faced with a surge in asylum-seeking families last year, the U.S. said there wasn’t enough processing capacity at official crossings and began telling people to wait in Mexico to claim asylum. The practice, known as “metering,” has left many waiting months.

The number of names on waiting lists in 11 Mexican border cities totaled nearly 21,400 this month, according to a survey by the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas, Austin and the Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

In Tijuana, the waiting list hovers below 9,000 names. People whose names were getting called last week said they had been waiting in Mexico for five months.

The U.S. does not manage the waiting lists, spawning haphazard systems that vary by city. Over time, they have been overseen by Mexican federal, state and local officials, Mexican migrant shelters and immigrants themselves.

The lack of U.S. control or centralized management of the lists makes it difficult to know how many asylum seekers will benefit from Tuesday’s ruling. Attorneys for the plaintiffs estimate it is in the thousands.

Neither the Justice nor Homeland Security Departments responded to requests for comment.

Groups representing asylum seekers applauded the ruling.

“These asylum seekers have a deep commitment to following our laws in seeking protection, and we are relieved to see that their decision to follow our government’s instructions to wait in Mexico will not prejudice their chances for relief,” said Erika Pinheiro, director of litigation and policy at Al Otro Lado, which was represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Center for Constitutional Rights, and American Immigration Council.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Scattered Clouds

Abbeville

59°F Scattered Clouds Feels like 59°
Wind
6 mph SE
Humidity
93%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies. Low 57F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.
60°F Partly cloudy skies. Low 57F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
5 mph S
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous
Overcast

Crowley

61°F Overcast Feels like 61°
Wind
9 mph SSE
Humidity
96%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies this evening will become overcast overnight. Low 57F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.
60°F Partly cloudy skies this evening will become overcast overnight. Low 57F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
6 mph S
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous
Clear

Opelousas

57°F Clear Feels like 57°
Wind
9 mph SSE
Humidity
91%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy skies early will give way to cloudy skies late. Low 56F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.
60°F Partly cloudy skies early will give way to cloudy skies late. Low 56F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
8 mph S
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous
Clear

Breaux Bridge

58°F Clear Feels like 58°
Wind
5 mph SSE
Humidity
87%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy this evening, then becoming cloudy after midnight. Low 56F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
60°F Partly cloudy this evening, then becoming cloudy after midnight. Low 56F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
6 mph S
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous
Clear

New Iberia

56°F Clear Feels like 56°
Wind
6 mph SSE
Humidity
100%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Mostly clear skies this evening will become overcast overnight. Low near 55F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
57°F Mostly clear skies this evening will become overcast overnight. Low near 55F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
7 mph SSE
Precip
20%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waxing Gibbous

Sidebar

Trending Stories