This week the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision affirming the lower court's decision upholding three California laws against a challenge by the federal government. The federal government challenged the three laws, which all pertain to the state's status as a "sanctuary" state, on the grounds that they are preempted by federal law and that they violate a doctrine known as intergovernmental immunity.
Attorney General William Barr Releases Immigration Decision Ordering Judges to Prevent Migrant Asylum Seekers From Posting Bond While Awaiting Trial
On Tuesday, April 16, 2019, Attorney General William Barr released an immigration decision applying to migrants who have established "a credible fear of persecution or torture" in their home country. The decision orders immigration judges to prevent migrant asylum seekers from posting bond while awaiting trial. President Donald Trump has criticized the former immigration policy allowing the posting of bond as a "catch and release" system. The American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project claims that "this decision will result in the unlawful jailing of thousands of people who should not be behind bars."
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held on Thursday that the constitutional guarantee of habeas corpus precludes US immigration authorities from deporting asylum seekers who had failed an initial screening. This ruling sets up a circuit split (with the Third Circuit, which came to the opposite conclusion in 2016), which makes review by the US Supreme Court likely.
A group of 16 states, including the border states of California and New Mexico, has gone to court to challenge the Trump administration's attempt to invoke emergency powers in order to fund the construction of a border wall. The lawsuit, which was filed in federal district court in San Francisco, raises not only constitutional issues related to who controls federal spending, but also may turn on issues of standing and statutory interpretation.
In the latest legal challenge to the US Customs and Border Protection agency's broad authority over the border zone, two women from Montana have filed suit after being detained at a gas station solely for speaking Spanish.
On Wednesday, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a permanent injunction against the federal government to prevent it from continuing its asylum policies announced last summer by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. According to Judge Sullivan, all but two of the policies violated the Immigration and Naturalization Act, and as such, he ordered the government “to return to the United States the plaintiffs who were unlawfully deported and to provide them with new credible fear determinations consistent with the immigration laws.”
Federal Court Blocks Trump Administration From Denying Asylum to Immigrants Who Cross Border Illegally
Judge Jon S. Tigar of the US District Court for the Northern District of California temporarily blocked the government on Monday night from denying asylum to immigrants who illegally cross the southern border of the United States. In his decision, Judge Tigar wrote that barring asylum for immigrants who enter outside of legal check points "irreconcilably conflicts" with immigration law and the "expressed intent of Congress."
The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled against the Trump administration's attempt to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA permits approximately 600,000 unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the US as children to remain in the country legally by seeking permission from the Department of Homeland Security every two years. Though the Trump administration had asked the US Supreme Court to weigh in on the case pending in the 9th Circuit before the appellate ruling, now that the appellate court has issued its decision, it is even more likely that the Supreme Court will take up the matter in 2019.
Court papers filed late last week show that according to the government's most recent estimates, close to 500 children, including 22 under the age of 5, remain in US custody after being separated from their parents at the border earlier this year pursuant to the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy. The greatest logistical challenge that government officials and immigrants' rights advocates have faced in reuniting many of these children with their families is that their parents were deported without them, and are now proving difficult if not impossible to locate.
In a federal court in Boston, US District Judge Mark Wolf has stated that immigrants with final orders of removal should not be deported just because they are in the process of applying for a green card. The judge indicated that he was not precluding ICE from effectuating removals, but said that the agency can only do so in these cases after considering that the individuals with deportation orders are also seeking "provisional waivers," which permit undocumented immigrants to pursue citizenship.