A federal judge in Washington struck down a Trump administration rule that would require migrants seeking to enter the U.S. to first seek asylum in countries they travel through on their way to the southern border.
Judge Timothy Kelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, an appointee of President Donald Trump, delivered the opinion late Tuesday. Kelly said the ban, which was published on July 16. 2019, without a typical notice-and-comment period, failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act governing how agencies should implement rules.
“Defendants unlawfully promulgated the rule without complying with the APA’s notice-and-comment requirements,” Kelly said, concluding that the court didn’t need to rule on other claims about the validity of the rule to vacate it.
The impact: The ruling arguably bucks the view of the Supreme Court that the asylum ban could go into effect when the high court ruled on this topic last September, suggesting there are additional legal battles on the way over how the administration is implementing asylum policies.
Kelly also denied the government’s request to stay his order pending appeal, meaning he has blocked a policy that would have automatically denied asylum to a population of migrants that the U.S. had long allowed to at least file asylum applications once they reached U.S. soil.
Kelly’s decision also fits a pattern of courts disrupting Trump administration initiatives by aggressively enforcing the Administrative Procedure Act. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census violated the APA because of what it said was the faulty reason officials cited for the decision.
And just two weeks ago Chief Justice John Roberts again joined the court’s liberals in holding that the administration’s explanation for why it wanted to rescind the DACA program didn’t withstand scrutiny under the APA.
The CAIR Coalition, Human Rights First, RAICES, Hogan Lovells and nine individual asylum-seekers brought the suit in August 2019.
What’s next: With the rule now vacated, the administration must begin a new rulemaking process if it wants to implement a similar policy.
The Departments of Homeland Security and Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.
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