Federal judge blocks new criminal disqualifiers to asylum

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FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2019 file photo, asylum seekers from Central America and Cuba follow an Immigration and Customs Enforcement guard into the Richard C. White Federal Building in El Paso, Texas. A judge on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 has blocked a Trump administration rule that would have put up new roadblocks for asylum-seekers convicted of a variety of crimes. It was set to take effect Friday. The federal judge in San Francisco says current federal law already includes plenty of disqualifying crimes such as drug trafficking, money laundering and counterfeiting. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio, File)

LOS ANGELES – A federal judge on Thursday blocked a Trump administration rule about to take effect that would have put up new roadblocks for asylum-seekers convicted of a variety of crimes.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco said the rule “sweeps too broadly” and was unnecessary because current federal law already includes a host of disqualifying crimes such as drug trafficking, money laundering and counterfeiting.

Pangea Legal Services, a legal service provider for immigrants, and other non-profits sued after the rule was announced last month by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Justice. It was set to take effect Friday.

The judge issued a temporary restraining order without an expiration date. She scheduled a Dec. 9 hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction.

Illston agreed with the plaintiffs' contention that the two government agencies exceeded their authority and said the rule was “substantively and procedurally defective.”

The departments of Homeland Security and Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the ruling.

The White House has instituted a slew of measures to make asylum more difficult to obtain.

President-elect Joe Biden said on his campaign website that he will end Trump’s “detrimental asylum policies” but has not commented on this specific rule.