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Appeals court refuses to reinstate Trump’s asylum ban

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A federal appeals court in San Francisco Friday turned down a government request to reinstate President Donald Trump’s partial ban on asylum seekers at the Mexican border.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by a 2-1 vote refused to stay a temporary restraining order on the ban in which U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar said last month violates a U.S. immigration law.

The law allows asylum applications from people who enter the United States at any point, “whether or not at a designated port of arrival.”

Trump’s restrictions, issued on Nov. 9, would have allowed applications from only people who arrived at official entry points. The Justice Department argued the limits were necessary to “stem a crisis from the mass illegal immigration at the southern border.”

Four refugee assistance groups led by the Berkeley-based East Bay Sanctuary Covenant sued to challenge the ban. They said some asylum seekers fleeing persecution don’t know there are legal entry points or don’t know where they are located.

The Justice Department could now appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay. Department spokesman Steven Stafford said, “We’re reviewing our options.”

The appeals court majority said that in future proceedings, the ban is likely to be found to violate the immigration law and that it is an intrusion by the executive branch on Congress’s power to enact laws.

Circuit Judge Jay Bybee wrote, “Here, the Executive has attempted an end-run around Congress.”

Bybee also wrote in the majority opinion, “It is the hollowest of rights that an alien must be allowed to apply to asylum regardless of whether she arrived through a port of entry if another rule makes her categorically ineligible for asylum based on precisely that fact.”

Tigar has scheduled a Dec. 19 hearing in San Francisco on whether he should grant a longer-lasting preliminary injunction, the next step in the case.

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