20 November, 2018
A United States federal judge has barred the Trump administration from changing asylum laws. The judge stopped a presidential order that would have blocked immigrants from seeking asylum if they entered the United States illegally.
President Donald Trump signed the order on November 9. It denied asylum to anyone who crossed the southern border without going through official ports of entry. He acted in answer to large groups of Central Americans currently walking to the U.S. border with Mexico. They have said they plan to enter the U.S. Many are fleeing violence in their homelands.
Trump described the so-called "caravan" of Central Americans as a national security threat. U.S. troops are deployed to the border to help stop what Trump has also called an "invasion."
But on Monday, the judge in the case said that the president is not permitted to "rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden."
The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act says a migrant is permitted to make a claim for asylum up to one year after arriving in the U.S. The law does not set any conditions about how they arrive.
A lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights said the law "couldn't be clearer." The center is part of the group that took legal action against the order.
The Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, and the Department of Justice answered the court decision in a joint statement Tuesday. It said, "As the Supreme Court affirmed this summer, Congress has given the President broad authority to limit or even stop the entry of aliens into this country."
Last June, the Supreme Court ruled that Trump has the power to establish a travel ban against people from some Muslim-majority countries.
The federal judge's ruling against the asylum ban, however, will remain in effect for one month barring an appeal. It will also make it harder for the government to deport illegal migrants.
DHS officials say about 70,000 people a year request asylum after entering the country illegally. But — illegal crossings overall are well below historical highs from previous decades.
Trump administration officials had argued that the order is meant to force asylum seekers to go through official border crossings. The legal ports of entry have very long lines of people waiting for entry.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Hai Do adapted the story for Learning English based on Associated Press, VOA and Reuters news reports. Caty Weaver was the editor.
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Words in This Story
impose – v. to force someone to accept something
forbidden – adj. not permitted or allowed
affirm – v. to decide that the judgement of another court is correct
authority – n. the power to make decisions
alien – n. a person who was born in a different country
decade – n. a period of 10 years