Administration, advocates await next move in asylum lawsuit

Trump ordered ban on most asylum seekers

By GENEVA SANDS, CNN
John Moore/Getty Images

For days, as migrants have traveled thousands of miles toward the US-Mexico border, President Donald Trump has warned of the dangerous people who make up their pack.

(CNN) - Immigration advocates who filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration's asylum ban are waiting for the court's first move, which is expected on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump on Friday signed a proclamation setting into motion a ban on most asylum claims for immigrants who cross the US-Mexico border illegally. The proclamation put into effect a new administration rule submitted to the federal registry Thursday that serves as the legal vehicle for the ban.

Before the ban even became operational Saturday morning, the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center and Center for Constitutional Rights sued the administration on behalf of various asylum and refugee assistance groups.

The parties accused the administration in their lawsuit of "violating Congress's clear command that manner of entry cannot constitute a categorical asylum bar," as well as violating the Administrative Procedure Act by not providing public notice or comment on the rule.

"The asylum ban is flatly unlawful and will put people's lives in danger. The President has no authority to simply discard a law Congress passed," ACLU lead attorney Lee Gelernt told CNN on Monday.

In addition to the lawsuit, the immigrant rights groups asked the judge to issue a temporary restraining order, which could halt the President's proclamation while the case is decided in court.

The ACLU and the other plaintiffs are awaiting a judge in California's northern district court, where the case was filed, to be assigned to the case, but were standing by in case a judge made an emergency move on the case during the Veterans Day holiday.

On Tuesday, a federal judge is likely to set a hearing date and request a response from the government, according to the ACLU.

"The asylum ban, coupled with CBP's widespread practice and policy of turning back individuals attempting to seek asylum at ports of entry, would effectively deny protection to thousands of vulnerable individuals. The government's blatant disregard for the rights of asylum seekers cannot stand," said Melissa Crow, Southern Poverty Law Center senior supervising attorney, in a statement last week.

The government's policy of "metering" -- limiting entry at legal ports of entry -- has gained newfound scrutiny, since the proclamation has the intended effect of funneling people to legal entry points along the southern border.

According to the lawsuit, asylum seekers presenting at ports of entry are turned back by Customs and Border Protection through a number of tactics, including threats, intimidation and coercion, in addition to wait times that range from several days to weeks.

As of Friday, the Department of Homeland Security did not have any concrete plans to increase staffing or processing capacity at the land ports.

The asylum ban is the latest move by the Trump administration to crack down on what it says is fraud in the immigration system, and it follows the deployment of thousands of troops to the southern border.

The move was in part sparked by the large group of migrants heading through Mexico toward the US border, but the legal outline for the ban had been in the works for some time.

The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, which issued the joint rule ahead of the proclamation, argue that under the current law, the President has the the right to suspend entry by individuals into the US, if he determines it to be in the national interest.

"We should not have to go to court to defend the President's clear legal authority or our rights as a sovereign nation, but we will not hesitate to do so. We are confident that the rule of law will prevail. The fact that the ACLU and its partners would go to court to specifically sue for the right for aliens to enter the country illegally is demonstrative of the open border community's disdain for our nation's laws that almost all rational Americans find appalling," said the departments in a joint statement in response to the lawsuit.

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