Lawsuit Filed Challenging the Trump Administration’s Asylum Ban

San Francisco, CA July 17, 2019 – Innovation Law Lab, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Al Otro Lado, and Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s latest attack on asylum and people fleeing persecution.  The organizations are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Center for Constitutional Rights. The lawsuit, filed before the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, charges the administration with violating U.S. and international law.

“This horrific new rule is but the latest chapter in the Trump Administration’s hate-fueled campaign against refugees and immigrants of color”, says Ian Philabaum, Program Director at Innovation Law Lab.

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This new rule intends to block people fleeing persecution from seeking safety and lawfully  applying for asylum in the United States. Federal immigration law requires that the person be physically present in order to apply for asylum. Under the new rule, individuals who did not apply for asylum in the countries through which they traveled would not be eligible to request asylum in the United States; regardless of their physical presence. This shift in policy comes after the Trump Administration failed to reach a proposed “safe third country” agreement with Guatemala.

The Trump Administration’s dangerous and blatantly unlawful new rule ignores the fact that many countries in the Americas through which asylum-seekers travel do not meet the international standards required to enter a safe third-country agreement. Individuals who flee dangerous situations by land are often unable to apply for asylum prior to arriving to the United States’ southern border due to well-documented violence against migrants and the looming risk of refoulement, the legal term for being returned to a place where you may be persecuted.

Innovation Law Lab is a nonprofit organization that uses technology, collaboration, and constitutional principles to empower lawyers and volunteers to provide effective representation to immigrants in hostile judicial jurisdictions and detention centers so that every claim that should win, does win, every time, everywhere. The vast majority of those served by Innovation Law Lab are asylum seekers.

This new policy will require Innovation Law Lab to divert its limited resources in order to entirely rework its large-scale pro bono legal representation projects, templates, guides, training videos, self-help videos, and other resources used by attorneys around the country. This new policy would also require Innovation Law Lab to divert its limited engineering resources to recode its software in order to create new analytical modeling. “very single one of the Law Lab’s existing programs will be significantly affected, irrevocably damaged, and immediately diverted by the new rule”, stated Stephen Manning, Executive Director of Innovation Law Lab.