San Diego judge blocks restrictions on asylum at border

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A San Diego federal judge ruled Tuesday that the government’s asylum ban on migrants attempting to enter the United States does not apply to those who traveled to the border prior to the ban’s implementation, paving the way for migrants instructed by immigration officials to wait in Mexico to finally have their asylum claims heard.

The ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia A. Bashant stemmed from a class-action lawsuit brought by immigrant legal services firm Al Otro Lado, which alleges the government is using “misrepresentations, threats and intimidation” to deter migrants from seeking asylum, tactics serving “the Trump administration’s broader, public proclaimed goal of deterring individuals from seeking access to the asylum process.”

One of those tactics is a “metering” policy, in which migrants are told to wait on the Mexican side of the border crossing before making an asylum claim because the ports of entry are at capacity. Many who did so prior to the July 16 issuing of the ban were turned away after it went into effect, even though they waited in Mexico as instructed, court documents state.

Bashant’s ruling states that those migrants who waited in Mexico “did exactly what the government told them to do: they did not make direct claims for asylum at a POE and instead returned to Mexico to wait for an opportunity to access the asylum process in the United States.”

Bashant said the government has since claimed “that these class members never attempted to enter, entered, or arrived at a POE” prior to July 16.

The judge wrote that “although these individuals had already attempted to seek asylum in the United States and returned to Mexico only at instruction of the government, the government intends to construe the fact that they were waiting in Mexico on or after July 16, 2019 as a failure to arrive in the United States before that date.”

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