An alliance of immigrant advocacy groups on Tuesday sued the Trump administration in federal court, challenging a new rule intended to severely restrict the ability of people fleeing persecution to apply for asylum in the United States.
The groups filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California in San Francisco, seeking an injunction to block the policy less than 36 hours after the government announced it on Monday.
Trump administration officials had announced that they would deny protection to migrants who fail to apply for asylum in at least one country they pass through on their manner north, preventing virtually all Central Americans who claim asylum from entering the United States.
Migrant families and unaccompanied youngsters from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala make up the vast majority of asylum seekers, having entered America in record numbers this year. Beneath the new rule, which went into effect on Tuesday, Hondurans and Salvadorans would have to apply for — and be denied — asylum in Guatemala or Mexico before they were eligible to use in the United States. Guatemalans would have to use for and be denied asylum in Mexico.
The rule would effectively limit asylum protections to Mexicans and those who cross the United States’ border by sea.
The Border Patrol has arrested 363,300 migrant family members from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala at the southern border so far in the fiscal year 2019, compared with about 3,200 Mexicans traveling as families.
According to the complaint, when Congress considered the possibility of applicants being asked to use for asylum in a third nation, it created narrow exceptions under which that would occur: If the immigrant firmly resettled in another country, or if the United States entered into a formal agreement with a third nation that would give immigrants a safe and meaningful opportunity to apply in that country.