Judge Strikes Down Trump Asylum Bar Targeting Central Americans

A federal judge in Washington, DC, struck down the Trump administration policy that barred Central American migrants from seeking asylum if they had not first sought asylum protection from another country on their way to the U.S.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, who was appointed by Trump, ruled the administration failed to justify the policy last year without allowing notice and comment from the public.

The government “unlawfully promulgated the rule” without notice-and-comment requirements, Kelly wrote. “Because neither the ‘good cause’ nor the ‘foreign affairs function’ exceptions are satisfied on the record here,” the court struck down the federal rule.

The rule categorically disqualified aliens arriving at the southern border from receiving asylum unless they had already unsuccessfully sought similar protection in another country on their way here.

 Asylum in the US provides individuals who qualify with a path to citizenship, eligibility to some government benefits and a chance for family members to receive asylum. But qualifying is difficult and requires a showing that the alien would be subject to persecution or torture in their own country for particular qualified protected groups. Any persona physically in the U.S. may apply.

Judge Kelly was appointed to the DC District Court in 2017. His private law practice focused on defense of corporations in complex product liability cases. He also worked at the Legal Aid Society of DC as an associate on loan from the Arnold & Porter law firm.

Case:  Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition v. Trump, No. 19-2117

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