Federal Judge in DC Strikes Down Trump Asylum Restrictions

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.”

Under the Immigration and Naturalization Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, a government agency may not adopt policies that are “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” To overcome an “arbitrary and capricious” challenge, the agency must be “the product of reasoned decisionmaking.” The asylum policies, Judge Sullivan found, impose a higher standard for asylum-seekers than the “well-founded fear of persecution” standard established in the Refugee Act and the UN Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which was the motivation behind the passage of the Act.

Additional Reading

Federal judge blocks another attempt by Trump to limit asylum, USA Today, December 19, 2018

Grace v. Sessions / Grace v. Whitaker via Justia Dockets

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