Judge deals setback to key Trump policy limiting asylum

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge in the United States (US) has knocked down a cornerstone border policy of the Trump administration that denies asylum to people who travel through other countries to reach the US-Mexico border without first seeking protection in those countries.

US District Judge Timothy Kelly ruled that authorities violated federal rule-making procedures by not seeking public feedback before putting the policy into effect in July 2019.

The impact of Kelly’s ruling is diminished by a coronavirus pandemic-related measure that was imposed in March to quickly expel people who cross the border illegally and block asylum-seekers at official crossings. In May, the administration extended the measure indefinitely, relying on a little-known public health law to prevent the spread of the disease.

The administration could appeal. Asked to comment on Wednesday, the Justice Department said in a statement that the court’s ruling was based on procedural claims and not about the policy’s substance. The Homeland Security Department said it strongly disagreed with the decision and was considering options.

File photo shows asylum seekers in Tijuana, Mexico, listening to names being called from a waiting list to claim asylum at a border crossing in an Diego. PHOTO: AP