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Judge blocks Trump order refusing asylum to migrants who illegally cross border

Tensions were up when two individuals climbed the bollard fence to detach the razor sharp c-wire that was installed on the top section of the bollard fence in Playas de Tijuana on Nov. 14, 2018. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
November 20, 2018

A federal judge has prevented the Trump Administration from denying asylum to migrants who cross illegally into the United States.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, a judge appointed by former President Obama, ruled in favor of legal groups who sued over Trump’s Nov. 9 proclamation which sought to designate migrants ineligible for asylum if they illegally crossed the border, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

“Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” Tigar declared in his ruling.

Trump’s proclamation set rules similar to the travel ban he imposed last year, which was later upheld by the Supreme Court. His designation intended to set conditions for asylum, although current laws provide asylum eligibility to anyone, regardless of how they enter the country.

“We need people in our country, but they have to come in legally,” Trump said when the proclamation was announced, as the Associated Press reported.

Of those who illegally enter the country each year, an estimated 70,000 claim asylum.

Tigar’s ruling will persist for at least one month until the administration appeals it.

Baher Azmy, attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, one of the groups who joined the lawsuit with American Civil Liberties Union, said that migrants are entitled to asylum.

“Individuals are entitled to asylum if they cross between ports of entry,” Azmy said. “It couldn’t be clearer.”

“We don’t condone people entering between ports of entry, but Congress has made the decision that if they do, they still need to be allowed to apply for asylum,” said Lee Gelernt, attorney for the ACLU.

Customs and Border Protection personnel have been processing about 100 asylum applications each day at the port of entry between Tijuana and San Diego.

Homeland Security officials estimated that 6,000 migrants are awaiting processing in Tijuana, with another group of 3,400 migrants on the way, Fox News reported on Monday. Some 2,700 migrants from the Honduras caravan have applied for asylum in Mexico under a new program created last month.

There is a backlog of asylum applicants, creating a lengthy waiting list that has caused frustration among the migrant caravan. Some members of the migrant caravan caused disruption at the border, prompting additional security.

“Unfortunately, some members of the caravan are purposely causing disruptions at our border ports of entry,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Twitter. “There is a legal and illegal way to enter the U.S. We have deployed additional forces to protect our border.”

The large influx of migrants has put a strain on Tijuana, causing some locals to lash out in protest. On Sunday, Tijuana locals marched around a local city monument, chanting “Out! Out!” and “We don’t want them in Tijuana!” while waving the Mexico flag.