Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Coalition Before the Ninth Circuit Court to Protect Asylum-Seekers

Thursday, May 16, 2019
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a multistate coalition in an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The lawsuit, now before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, challenges the Trump Administration’s efforts to prevent those who have not entered the country at a “port of entry” from applying for asylum in the United States. In the brief, the coalition of attorneys general urges the appellate court to uphold the preliminary injunction secured before the district court, preventing the Trump Administration from implementing its harmful rule that would exacerbate inhumane conditions at our borders and cause significant harm to the states.

“The federal government has a legal obligation to hear the petitions of those who are fleeing violence or persecution and seeking asylum in this country,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The Trump Administration’s attempts to circumvent the law endanger the health and safety of thousands. Alongside our partners across the nation, we will continue to fight to preserve the rule of law and the rights of asylum-seekers in our country.”

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 already vulnerable families to experience additional trauma, live outside in extreme weather conditions, face additional persecution, and be denied 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 and local governments will incur the cost of providing needed services to asylum-seekers to address unnecessary trauma they suffer as a result of the rule. The impact is particularly significant in California, which welcomes over 45 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.

Attorney General Becerra remains committed to protecting the rights of immigrants in California and around the country. Earlier this year, Attorney General Becerra led a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s illegal diversion of funds to construct a wall at the southern border, released a first-of-its-kind report on immigration detention facilities in California, led a multistate amicus brief challenging the Trump Administration’s “Turnback Policy,” and co-led a multistate effort before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to defend hundreds of thousands of people who hold Temporary Protected Status. Additionally, as a result of a preliminary injunction secured by California, nearly 100,000 Dreamers in the last quarter alone were able to successfully renew their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protections.

Joining Attorney General Becerra in filing the brief are the Attorneys General of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai'i, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the brief is available here

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