A federal judge has blocked a new Trump administration rule that tightens standards by which immigration judges are allowed to grant asylum.
The Thursday order came three days before the amended rule was set to go into effect.
District Judge James Donato of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California took issue with the proposed rule’s “truncated” public comment period of 30 days. He also sided with plaintiffs — immigration advocacy groups — who said Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, lacked the authority to implement the rule.
Wolf has been serving as acting head of homeland security department since November 2019, replacing former acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan.
The Government Accountability Office in August said Wolf wasn’t legally entitled to hold his position because he assumed the job under a succession plan crafted by McAleenan, who himself had no authority to hold his job under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.
Trump never formally nominated McAleenan to be secretary. Trump formally nominated Wolf for the job later in August.
Donato said his is the fifth court that’s ruled against Wolf’s authority as head of the Cabinet department.
“The government has recycled exactly the same legal and factual claims made in the prior cases, as if they had not been soundly rejected in well-reasoned opinions by several courts,” the judge wrote.
“This is a troubling litigation strategy. In effect, the government keeps crashing the same car into a gate, hoping that someday it might break through.
Trump withdrew his nomination of Wolf on Thursday.
Immigration Equality, one of the plaintiffs in the case, welcomed Donato’s ruling.
“Today’s ruling halts the most sweeping illegal, anti-refugee volley of the Trump administration,” said Bridget Crawford, legal director for the organization. “Asylum is an international human right. LGBTQ and HIV-positive refugees fleeing persecution will always be welcomed in the U.S.”
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