AG Becerra Leads Multistate Amicus Brief Calling for Preliminary Injunction to Protect Asylum-Seekers

SACRAMENTO, Dec. 6, 2018 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra led a multistate amicus brief filed in support of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, which challenges the Trump Administration’s efforts to prevent people who have not entered the country at a “port of entry” from applying for asylum in the United States. In the brief, the Attorneys General urge the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to grant a preliminary injunction suspending the Trump Administration’s Final Interim Rule on the grounds that it exacerbates inhumane conditions at our borders, causes significant harm to the States, and violates the Administrative Procedure Act. This regulation is contrary to long-standing federal statutes, as Congress has recognized the importance of allowing individuals to apply for asylum regardless of how they arrived. 

“Families fleeing violence, persecution and possible death in their home countries endure difficult and often dangerous conditions to seek asylum in the United States—they deserve to be treated fairly,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The Trump Administration’s Rule illegally risks the health and safety of asylum-seeking individuals and families, forcing them to wait in terrible conditions at the border despite clear legal requirements that all people with asylum claims have their petitions heard. States like California, which lead the nation in welcoming refugees, will continue to fight to preserve the rule of law and defend vulnerable migrants and their families fleeing violence, persecution and possible death.”      

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Over 6,000 Central American immigrants, including over 1,000 children, are currently stranded outside California ports of entry waiting for an opportunity to present their asylum claims to federal immigration officials. The Trump Administration’s Rule forbids people who enter the United States between ports of entry from applying for asylum. The States’ brief argues that this Rule, in combination with existing policies to turn away people who present themselves at the border, makes it difficult or impossible for asylum-seekers to present their claims. This de facto denial of asylum claims violates the law and creates inhumane conditions at the border, forcing families to live outside in extreme weather conditions without access to basic health services, education, and other life essentials.  

The coalition also argues that States will be harmed by the effects of this illegal rule. States invest their own resources to provide education, healthcare, and other services to immigrants residing within their borders, including asylum-seekers once they are in the country. States, counties, and local governments will incur the cost of providing services to asylum-seekers who suffer unnecessary trauma as a result of the Rule. The impact is particularly significant in California, which welcomes almost 44 percent of all asylum-seekers. Finally, the States argue that the Rule is arbitrary and capricious and was implemented without complying with notice and comment requirements in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Joining Attorney General Becerra in filing the brief are the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.