Checks And Balances Holding Firm: Federal Judge Stops Trump Rule Regarding Asylum Seekers


There was some good news to report from our federal judiciary. And there is good news to report for those who care about the process of governing–a topic near and dear to this blogger’s heart.

There was a most correct defeat to the Trump administration’s sweeping effort to single-handedly overhaul the asylum system without Congress.  What possibly could have been in the mind of White house staffers when making this power play?  OK, OK, we know what was in their hearts, but how they could be so tin-eared to the reaction this was going to create?

While much news was made Wednesday–and properly so regarding the public testimony of Robert Mueller–there was also the heartening news that a federal judge blocked a rule that made most migrants from Central America and other countries ineligible for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Judge Jon Tigar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California agreed to issue a temporary injunction halting the policy while he reviews the merits of a legal challenge spearheaded by the American Civil Liberties Union. This ruling will impact the entire nation. Trump’s rule will now be suspended pending further proceedings.

Just hours prior to Tigar’s ruling another federal judge in Washington, D.C., let the 9-day-old policy stand. The California judge’s preliminary injunction halts the policy while the lawsuit plays out in court.

In his order, Tigar seemed to agree with the concerns raised by the plaintiffs that policy could result in the U.S. government sending asylum seekers back to dangerous circumstances just because they did not seek protection in countries like Mexico. The judge noted Mexico does not have as robust of an asylum system as the U.S. to guarantee people safe haven.

Process matters. The rules and procedures for crafting policy is not something that can be dismissed and replaced on a whim. Had Trump and his team of misfits understood just a smidgen about government and governing there would not be so many needs for the federal judiciary to step in and clean up the messes.

The bright side is that we see, once again, the rule of law holding and being strengthened by the courts in this time of self-generated chaos from the Trump White House.