On November 9, 2018, President Trump issued a proclamation barring anyone who entered between ports of entry from seeking asylum. This proclamation was to be valid for 90 days or until the creation of a “safe third country” agreement with Mexico, whichever occurred first. Of course, such an agreement would only be helpful if many of the same factors that migrants fleeing Central America were not present in Mexico itself. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Moreover, this proclamation is in direct contradiction with our current immigration laws and international law. As a result, it was quickly put on hold on November 19 by a federal judge. The judge wrote, “Whatever the scope of the President’s authority he may not rewrite the asylum laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.” This latest proclamation is intended to further demonize asylum seekers and to obstruct them from accessing their rights. Even though it is currently on hold, the message is clear and fear has spread amongst those seeking safety at our southern border.
In addition, a D.C. federal judge on December 19 struck down a recent Trump Administration policy largely barring victims of domestic and gang violence from obtaining asylum, finding that it violated both the Administrative Procedure Act and the Immigration and Nationality Act as arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law. The court enjoined the government from continuing to apply the unlawful policies and from removing plaintiffs who are currently in the United States without first providing “credible fear determinations” consistent with immigration laws. The court also ordered the government to return to the United States the plaintiffs who were unlawfully deported and to provide them with new credible fear determinations.