President Donald Trump’s administration issued a new rule in July intended to limit the eligibility of migrants seeking asylum at the U.S. border, but it was predictably thwarted by an Obama-appointed activist judge who issued a nationwide injunction against implementation of the rule.
The injunction was later narrowed by an appeals court and sent back to the original court for additional argument, but the original judge has defiantly reimposed the broader injunction, and now, the administration is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider an emergency appeal that would overturn the lower judge’s injunction and allow the rule to be implemented while the merits of the case are presented.
Asylum rule in question
In July, the Trump administration announced the new rule requiring asylum-seekers to apply for protected status in the first safe country they reached prior to the U.S., which in theory would dramatically reduce the number of migrants claiming asylum at the southern border.
After a court challenge against the rule was mounted, Judge Jon Tigar sided with immigrants’ rights activist groups and imposed a nationwide injunction that prevented the limitations from going into effect, a decision that was quickly appealed up the chain to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Somewhat surprisingly, a panel of Ninth Circuit judges ruled that Tigar overstepped his bounds and reduced the scope of the injunction to cover just the states within the Ninth Circuit, which would include California and Arizona. The case was also sent back down to the district level for further development of the record.
Rather defiantly, however, Tigar ignored the higher court’s ruling and reinstated the nationwide injunction against the rule to include the border states of New Mexico and Texas as well.
White House fights back
In the request to the Supreme Court for an emergency hearing to lift the injunction and allow the asylum rule to be put in place, Justice Department attorneys have now argued that a failure to lift the stay “would severely disrupt the orderly administration of an already overburdened asylum system.”
In a separate statement from the White House, press secretary Stephanie Grisham said, “Today, a single district judge in California reimposed a nationwide injunction halting the implementation of important rules that reform our broken asylum system — after the Ninth Circuit previously struck down this exact injunction.”
“Immigration and border security policy cannot be run by any single district court judge who decides to issue a nationwide injunction,” she continued. “This ruling is a gift to human smugglers and traffickers and undermines the rule of law.”
“We previously asked the Supreme Court to set aside the district court’s injunction in its entirety, our request remains pending with the Court, and we look forward to it acting on our request,” Grisham added.
Inappropriate use of injunctions
In the meantime, Politico reported that the administration similarly asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to implement an administrative stay on Tigar’s latest decision, and in what can only be described as a win for Trump, the court did just that, once again limiting the injunction’s applicability to California and Arizona.
Bear in mind that all of this comes as Attorney General William Barr and some on the Supreme Court, such as Justice Clarence Thomas, have been speaking out recently against the increasingly frequent use of nationwide injunctions by district judges to halt the lawful progress of an administration with which they have ideological or political disagreements. Perhaps Judge Tigar’s defiance will serve as the impetus for some sort of concerted action to end the troubling practice of injunction abuse by those on the federal bench.